Habitat suitability and threat analysis of Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis Linnaeus, 1758 (Mammalia: Perissodactyla: Rhinocerotidae) in Rautahat District, Nepal

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Saru Rimal
Hari Adhikari
Shankar Tripathi


The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis has been listed as a Vulnerable species on IUCN Red List, Appendix I of CITES, and a protected animal under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2029 B.S., 1973.  In Nepal, it was found only in Chitwan, Bardia, Shuklaphanta and Parsa national parks, but it has recently been also reported from the forests of Rautahat.  The main objectives of the study were to assess habitat suitability and threats for rhinoceros in Rautahat at an elevation range of approximately 300–1,000 m.  Remote sensing data and geospatial modeling techniques were used to assess habitat suitability of rhinoceros.  Vegetation assessment was carried out for tree, shrubs, and herbs of plot size 10m × 10m, 5m × 5m, 1m × 1m respectively for habitat suitability.  Threat analysis was carried out using purposive sampling among local people and their perceptions were collected on the movement of rhinoceros and threats.  The integration of nine explanatory variables showed that about 0.06%, 29.18%, 20.45%, and 50.31% of the study area was found to be most suitable, suitable, moderately suitable and unsuitable habitat respectively for rhinoceros.  Out of 30 respondents, 37%, 23%, 20%, and 20% identified the main threat to rhinoceros to be unmanaged habitat, poaching, human-wildlife conflict and environmental factors, respectively.  This study recommends parts of the Rautahat District to be extended as the habitat of rhinoceros and starting of immediate conservation initiatives in the area.

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