Table of Contents
ISRN Zoology
Volume 2012, Article ID 259695, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/259695
Research Article

Food Habit and Feeding Patterns of Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, Assam, India

1Department of Zoology, Mangaldai College, Assam, Mangaldai 784125, India
2Animal Ecology & Wildlife Biology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Gauhati University, Assam, Guwahati 781014, India

Received 2 November 2011; Accepted 20 December 2011

Academic Editor: S. T. Boysen

Copyright © 2012 B. C. Hazarika and P. K. Saikia. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Food and feeding patterns of great Indian one-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) has been studied in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park. Altogether 75 species of grasses, 27 species of herbs-shrubs, 27 species of trees, and 9 species of aquatic plants species were identified as a food-plant species of Indian Rhino in the study area. Of the total 75 species of grasses, 48 species had a relative dominance of <1.0. The Saccharum spontaneum was ranked as the highest relative dominance food-plant among grasses (relative dominance value, 8.45%), while the Cyperus pilosus ranked the lowest (relative dominance value, 0.08%). Among 27 herbs-shrubs species, three had a relative dominance of <1.0. The Diplazium esculentum was ranked the highest relative dominance food plants among herbs-shrubs food plants (relative dominance value, 13.83%), while the Solanum viarum was ranked the lowest (relative dominance value, 0.66%). All tree species had a relative dominance of >1.0. The Dalbergia sissoo ranked the highest among all trees (relative dominance value, 7.94%), while the Anthocephalus cadamba ranked the lowest (value, 1.19%). Grasses constituted 86.66% of the total annual diet of Rhino, while the aquatic and woodland species constituted only 13.34% of the total annual diet. Altogether 71 plants species were identified as the Rhino food plants at Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park. Of which, grasses constituted the highest (42 species), followed by woodland species (trees, herbs-shrubs), (20 species) and aquatic plants (9 species). The grass species Hemarthria compressa contributed a highest of 11.63%, while the aquatic plant Polygonum hydropiper was the least of 0.01% in total annual diet. Out of total 42 food-plant species, 20 grass species had no selectivity. The Hemarthria compressa was the top ranking grass species that has been selected as food by the Indian Rhino. Altogether, 36 food-plants (24 grasses, 9 woodland species, and 3 aquatic species) were identified as the staple food that constituted 83.64% of the total annual diet. Study showed that ten top ranking food plants constituted 56.44% and 20 top ranking food plants constituted 72.19% of the total annual diet. Thus, the grass species alone have enough to provide food for Indian Rhino in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park. Soil licking and crop depredation by the Indian Rhino were common in the fringe villages in study area.