Efforts should be made to protect them, say naturalists

A small population of grizzled giant squirrel, a rare and endangered species, has been sighted in the forest areas of Hosur and Krishnagiri.

Sighting of this arboreal species came to light during a recent survey conducted by a team of scientists from Bangalore. Headed by N. Baskaran and two other scientists from the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore, it conducted the year-long survey on vertebrates in the forest areas.

Until now, there were no records of the squirrels being sighted in Hosur and Krishnagiri, even though the species is known to exist in the Western Ghats. With the researchers sighting them in this part of the Eastern Ghats, more studies have to be taken on their habitat, vegetation and other related aspects. Similarly, efforts should be made to protect them also, say naturalists.

Dr. Baskaran said the squirrels were found in seven ranges – Anchetti, Denganikotta, Hosur, Javalagiri, Krishnagiri, Royakottai and Urigam in both the Krishnagiri and Hosur areas. They were sighted in eight different locations in these forest areas.

However, he said, the habitat of the arboreal was not contiguous. “They were found in discontinuous canopy cover, due to which their movement is restricted only to a small area.” The researchers sighted 13 individual specimens. According to Dr. Baskaran, their population could not be more than 20 in these areas.

In Tamil Nadu, the largest population of grizzled giant squirrels is in Shenbagathoppu in Srivilliputhur and the area has been declared a sanctuary for this species. The second largest habitat for the species is in Amaravathy Range in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Sighting of this species has also been recorded in Palani hills. Besides, it is also found in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala.

In Karnataka, a fragmented population of this arboreal is found in Kanagapura forest division.