Geospatial Analysis of Habitat Suitability for Greater One-horned Rhino Rhinoceros unicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Central lowlands of Nepal using MaxEnt Model
The prime Greater One-horned Rhino’s (Rhinoceros unicornis) habitats include a mosaic of grasses, oxbow lakes, Shorea robusta forests, and alluvial floodplains and the major habitat of this species is riverine grasslands dominated by Imperata cylindrical and riverine forests dominated by Trewia nudiflora. This study was mainly focused on the analysis of habitat suitability of Rhinoceros unicornis in Nawalparasi, Chitwan, and Parsa districts of Nepal. The secondary data such as bioclimatic and topographical variables were collected from relevant sources. Spatial data were processed using various tools of ArcGIS while the presence data were converted using Excel, and analysis was done with Maxent. The results showed that approximately 75.17% (53.32 sq. km) of suitable area is occupied by Chitwan National Park. Similarly, Barandabhar Corridor Forest occupies 7.38% (18.89 sq. km) of the suitable area of the landscape. While, there is no area suitable for Greater One-horned Rhinoceros in Parsa National Park. Among Land Use Land Cover (LULC), the riverbed was found to be the most important variable. Invasion of invasive plants was found to be the most frequent disturbance factor followed by human disturbances and forest fires. Though grassland management is an important part of habitat management, it is highly recommended that the management of waterholes should be done. Protected Area manager should conduct localised habitat suitability assessment once the area is found suitable at the landscape level and further field verification should be done. Invasive plant control measures and alternatives to meet the forest product demand should be promoted.
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