Malayan giant squirrel 'Under severe threat for existence', Zoological survey of India

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has informed that the Malayan giant squirrel, mostly found in evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of Northeast India, is now disappearing, and climate change is making things worse. A study conducted by ZSI under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that these large tree squirrel, commonly known to be one of the "forest health indicator" species needs to be conserved. They are "under severe threat for existence."

The study reveals that currently 56.62% area of the habitat of these squirrel are unsuitable. With climatic change by the year 2050, only 2.94% area of the present area will remain suitable habitat and remaining 97.06% area will become unsuitable for the species. "The squirrel will lose more than 90% of its distribution range gaining only 1.45% area as newly suitable habitat in India," said the report. Of the three species of giant squirrels found in India, Malayan species is native to Northeast India. The other two species: Indian giant squirrel, and grizzled giant squirrel, are distributed mostly across peninsular and southern India.

The Malayan Giant Squirrel is found in the northeastern part of the country covering the States of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. But ZSI report says by 2050 the population may soon get limited to only southern Sikkim and North Bengal. The unsustainable hunting of Malayan giant squirrel also declines its population. ZSI suggested that conservation techniques or conservation breeding programs are in need for protecting the Malayan giant squirrels of Northeast. 

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