Habitat suitability modeling of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus (Mammalia: Proboscidea: Elephantidae) in Parsa National Park, Nepal and its buffer zone

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Puja Sharma
Hari Adhikari
Shankar Tripathi
Ashok Kumar Ram
Rajeev Bhattarai


Asian wild Elephant (Elephas maximus) represents one of the endangered species of large mammals in the world. The study area (Parsa National Park (PNP) and its Buffer zone (BZ)) has been used as corridor and habitat by Elephant. The study aims 1) to assess the suitable habitat of Elephant in PNP and BZ and 2) to determine which explanatory variables better explain Elephant presence in PNP. Field measurements were carried out in 67 plots for vegetation analysis. Boosted Regression Tree (BRT) was used for examining the relationship of habitat suitability of Elephant and explanatory variables for example, topographic (slope, aspect, altitude), climatic (precipitation, temperature), and biotic and abiotic factors (habitat preference, ground cover, crown cover). According to the results, the habitat suitability of Elephant is mainly explained by dominant species (29.6%), followed by temperature (17.1%), altitude (15.5%), habitat preference (11.4%), and precipitation (10%). The influence of the slope, ground cover, crown cover and substrate, was lowest in the study. Elephants were recorded up to 400 m a.s.l and in northeast and southeast aspect. The suitable habitats were in the forest dominated by Acacia catechu and Myrsine semicerate receiving precipitation about 300 mm in an area with a low slope (0-5 degree). Its presence was not related to forest cover and substrate condition. The model emphasis on environmental suitability and contributes to the conservation of Elephant in PNP and provides the basis for more advanced habitat analysis. The result from the modeling is useful to delineate the site that required specific planning and management intervention. 

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