For the first time, researchers have sighted nests of the grizzled giant squirrel, an endangered species listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 at Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in the Eastern Ghats.
The grizzled giant squirrel is usually known to nest in the Western Ghats in Southern India ranging from Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary in Kerala to Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu. Owing to habitat loss and poaching, the species has been categorised as near threatened by the Red List and listed under Schedule II of CITES.
A team of researchers and wildlife activists from Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF), a non-profit organisation were conducting a survey in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee when they spotted grizzled giant squirrels. Over 300 nests of the endangered species were spotted by the group.
K. Raman of IBF said that the group had earlier spotted a pair of squirrels while trekking through the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests in 2016.
“We had photographed an individual but it disappeared among the trees. But this was the first time we spotted as many as 363 nests in the reserve based on grid mapping. The sighting of the squirrels was surprising as it had previously not been recorded. While nests were also spotted in adjoining Anandapuram Reserve, a majority of the nests were found only in Pakkamalai,” he said.
Appeal to government
Several diverse and endangered species including the Golden Gecko, Bamboo Pit Viper and Mouse Deer have also been spotted in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests. The government should immediately declare the forests as a sanctuary for the grizzled giant squirrel, he said.
The grizzled giant squirrel have earlier been spotted in Tiruvannamalai Forest Division in 2014, which was the only recorded sighting from this region in the Eastern Ghats.
Mr. Raman said that so far there has been no detailed study on why these squirrels frequent the Eastern Ghats. A detailed study is required to understand its distribution across the region. Habitat loss coupled with hunting for its fur and bushmeat by the locals are said to be the major threats to this species, he added.
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/over-300-nests-of-grizzled-giant-squirrel-spotted-near-gingee/article27052673.ece