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Assessing and managing the rising rhino population in Kaziranga (India)

Abstract : The greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a flagship species, and yet is poorly known unlike its African cousin. The species future is now under a growing threat, judging by the prospect of a legalization of the horn trade that has been the subject of recent debate, coupled with the fragmentation ofthe animal’s habitat. In this study, we analyze the rhino habitat and assess its dynamics in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Assam, India. To compensate for the limited size of the data available, we use some numerical models and propose some original spatial analyses and indicators. Our findings point to a healthy and increasing rhino population in a density-dependent scenario. An increase of at least 30% in the rhino population is expected in the coming twelve years, mainly as a result of the effective implementation of wildlife protection laws in the country. Kaziranga’s grasslands have been quite stable in the past (7% between years, in average, and less than 19% at most), and are expected to remain so in the near future, especially in the core area ofthe KNP. In the absence of a detailed suitability map and known carrying-capacity values, we identified the areas most favoured by the rhinos, and developed a so-called “preference map”. We conclude by stressing the need to realistically combine the existing conservation strategies while increasing the monitoring effort on the species distribution.
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Cedric Gaucherel, Pandey Neha, Puranik Roshan, Saika Uttam, Garawad Rajendra. Assessing and managing the rising rhino population in Kaziranga (India). Ecological Indicators, Elsevier, 2016, 66, pp.55-64. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.01.023⟩. ⟨hal-01837349⟩



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