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William and Kate go on India safari

Associated Press Associated Press 13/04/2016

After a night of traditional music and dance, the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge, have headed out in a jeep into the wilds of remote northeast India for a wildlife safari.

Prince William and his wife Kate spent several hours at the Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday in hopes of drawing attention to the plight of endangered animals, including the park's 2200-population of a rare, one-horned rhinos.

Kaziranga is a World Heritage Site which is a wildlife conservation area of global importance.

The animals are under threat from wildlife poachers and habitat loss. Already this year, six rhinos have been killed for their horns, after 20 were poached in 2015.

The British royal couple looked relaxed as they sat in the back of the open jeep driving through park during the hot and humid morning, local resident Ranjit Rajak said.

Kate was dressed in a cream RM Williams blouse and brown Zara biker stretch pants, and William in chinos and a khaki shirt.

The royal couple was joined by a park official acting as a guide on a tour across dirt tracks, tall grasslands and thick evergreen forest.

They met a group of forest rangers and wildlife wardens at an anti-poaching camp inside the 480-square-kilometre reserve, which is also home to other endangered species including swamp deer and the Hoolock gibbon.

Later on Wednesday, they will visit the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation which provides emergency care and rehab for wild animals that have been injured, displaced or orphaned.

After touring the centre they will visit the Kaziranga Discovery Park built by the Elephant Family, the charity founded by Mark Shand, the late brother of William's stepmother the Duchess of Cornwall, and see a first-of-its-kind health clinic for working elephants and an elephant information centre which is under construction.

Will and Kate arrived on Tuesday evening at the 12-cottage jungle resort where they stayed, and were entertained by a presentation of traditional Bihu dance. The Assamese New Year of Bihu began on Wednesday, a time of song, dance and merry-making among most of the state's 31 million people.

The prince tried to play a traditional bamboo jaw harp, a vibrating reed instrument, between his lips. "I need some more practice," he told the group of musicians.

The couple have already visited Mumbai and New Delhi on a week-long tour of India. They will stay in Kaziranga until Thursday, when they will make a one-day trip to neighbouring Bhutan.

William and Kate will then head back to India, where they'll wind up their tour with a visit to the Taj Mahal, retracing the steps of a 1992 visit to the monument of love by William's mother, the late Princess Diana.

The couple are travelling without their two children - 2 1/2-year-old Prince George and 11-month-old Princess Charlotte. They had taken George to Australia with them in 2014 on their last royal tour.

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