Malayan Giant Squirrel

Malayan giant squirrel or the black giant squirrel (Binomial name-Ratufa bicolor) is one of the largest tree squirrels in the world. They have a bodyweight of 1.05–1.25 kg and a length of 34–37 cm. The tail of the squirrel is longer than the length of the body.

Key Points

  • The animal is native to the Indomalayan region, which spreads across South and South-East Asia.
  • The Giant squirrels are characterized by a dark upper body, a pale underbody, and long bushy tails.
  • In India, the species is spotted at higher numbers at the Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam and parts of North-East India (Nagaland, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Meghalaya).
  • The species of giant squirrel is also found in Thailand, Southern China, Burma, Laos, the Malayan Peninsula, Java, Vietnam, and Sumatra.
  • They are mostly found in semi-evergreen forests and evergreen, from plains to hills at heights of 50 m to 1,500 m above sea level.

Malayan Giant Squirrel may extinct: Study

As per a recent study conducted by the Zoological Survey of India, Malayan Giant Squirrel may become extinct, if proper conservatory measures are not taken. As per the study, the number of species can decrease by 90% by the year 2050 if necessary steps are not undertaken now.

At present, the favorable habitat for the species in India is 43.38% only and it can further decrease to as low as 2.94% by the year 2050.

The population of the species in India has decreased by 30% in the last 2 decades. Major reasons for the decrease in their populations are crop cultivation, deforestation, over-harvesting of food, illegal trade in wildlife, fragmentation of forests, and hunting.

The species has already been listed as “Near Threatened” by IUCN in the year 2016, and it is also protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of India.

Giant Squirrel Species in India

India has three giant squirrel species- Indian Giant Squirrel, Malayan Giant Squirrel, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel.

Indian Giant Squirrel is only found in India in the Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, and Satpura Range. The species is one of the largest tree squirrels with a head and body length of 25–50 cm. The tail is also of the same length or longer.

The grizzled giant squirrel (Binomial name-Ratufa macroura) is a giant species of squirrel found in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, along Kaveri River, and in the central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka.

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