The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge admitted the safari stopover on their short tour of India was easily the highlight of their trip so far.
Armed with large bottles of milk, Kate and William fed the hungry animals who were impatient to get their meal and bellowed when they first saw the rangers approaching with the flasks.
The Kaziranga National Park is home to elephants, water buffalo, the endangered swamp deer, tigers and two-thirds of the world’s population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses.
The wildlife sanctuary in the state of Assam in the north east of India is a unique mix of grasslands, wetlands and forest. It measures more than 800,000 square kilometres and is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Kaziranga’s Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) provides emergency care and rehabilitation for wild animals that have been injured, displaced or orphaned.
The other highlight for the adventurous royals was visiting Kaziranga’s Discovery Park, which was built by Elephant Family, the charity founded by Mark Shand, the late brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, to help safeguard the Asian elephant.
They were met by Ruth Powys, Mark’s former partner and the chief executive of the organisation.
“The first thing they said after we introduced ourselves was how sorry they were about Mark,” says Ruth, who showed the couple around the new centre which is still under construction.
“William said how Mark always talked about Asia. It means a huge amount that they are here today putting the spotlight on what we are doing.”
The Duke and Duchess also heard from the Karbi people about how the charity helped relocate them to a village two hours from their homes in order to move them out the way of the elephants’ migrant route.
They were both keen to speak to two mothers who were breastfeeding young children in slings.
Before leaving, Kate and William were invited to put the finishing touches to the trunk of a much bigger elephant made of fibreglass which will be part of a fundraising campaign, Elephant Parade India, in which 300 painted elephants will be placed around India, from Delhi to Kerala.
William was the first to pick up a paintbrush and drew a blue circle around a red diamond shape. Kate was more adventurous and painted a flower.
Delhi-based painter Bulbul Sharma, 62, who is working on the project, says: “She took inspiration from my flowers and did a lovely flower. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy painting the elephant.”
To read why the tour of India is like belated wedding gift for Kate, click here.