The preferred habitat of an Indian Rhinoceros is alluvial flood plains and areas containing tall grasslands along the foothills of the Himalayas.
Formerly, extensively distributed in the Gangetic plains, today the species is restricted to small habitats in Indo- Nepal terai and North Bengal, and Assam.
In India rhinos are found in Kaziranga, Orang, Pobitara, Jaldapara, Dudhwa.
For years, rhinos have been widely slaughtered for their horn, a prized ingredient in traditional Asian medicines.
Destruction of their habitat over the years, has brought the rhinos to the brink of extinction. These animals are among the worlds' most endangered species.
The great one-horned rhino could once be found from Pakistan all the way through India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar.
Once found across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations were severely depleted as they were hunted for sport and killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction in the early 20th century and by 1975 there were only 600 individuals surviving in the wild.
By the turn of the century, this species had vanished from much of its range.
Thanks to rigorous conservation efforts, their numbers have increased dramatically since 1975. By 2016, conservation efforts saw the population grow to 3,555 in the Terai Arc Landscape of India and Nepal, and the grasslands of Assam and north Bengal in northeast India.
Throughout their range, their habitat continues to dwindle fast due to conversion of grassland habitats into agricultural fields and other human pressures. The threat of poaching continues to be ever-present.
Conserving the rhinos and their habitat is imperative. WWF has been working on rhino conservation for over four decades.
The big programme initiated by WWF is the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020). The vision of the programme is to increase the total rhino population in Assam to about 3000 by the year 2020 and just as significantly ensure that these rhinos are distributed over at least seven protected areas to provide long-term viability of an Assam metapopulation of the species. This will be achieved by translocating the rhinos from two-source populations (Kaziranga and Pobitara) into 3 or 4 target Protected Areas (Manas, Laokhowa, Burachapori, Kochpora, Dibrusaikhowa and, possibly, Orang).
The Forest Department faces a major challenge as lack of equipment, finance, political will and shortage of staff makes it difficult to implement conservation work at the grassroot level.
Two serious on the ground problems include, containing poaching and loss of habitat to encroachments.