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Status and Distribution of Malabar Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica in Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India


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Project Title Status and Distribution of Malabar Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica in Western Ghats of Maharashra, India

Project Supported by WWF, New Delhi and Ruffords Small Grants Program, UK

Project Implemented by Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, Pune

Technical Advisor Dr. Renee Borges

GIS Analysis Mr. Manoj Chavan

Occupancy Analysis Mr. Girish Punjabi

Study Area Map Mr. Tushar Pawar

Front and Back Cover Photos Dr. Prachi Mehta

Requested Citation

Mehta Prachi, Jayant Kulkarni, Tushar Pawar, Ranjit Kumar Sahoo, Evangeline Arulmalar and Girish Punjabi 2012. Status and Distribution of Malabar Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica in Western Ghats of Maharashtra. Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, Pune. Final Technical Report submitted to WWF New Delhi and Ruffords Small Grants Program, United Kingdom. pp74.




Wildlife Research and Conservation Society

1A, Shriyog Society, 127/5, Sus Road

Pashan, Pune-411021

Maharashtra

India

Office: +9120-65222903/25871310 (fax)



email: mail@wrcsindia.org

www.wrcsindia.org



Acknowledgements
The Indian giant squirrel Ratufa indica is a widely distributed species, perceived to be of high occurrence and is included under the Least Concern category of IUCN. However, throughout its range, it is facing threats to its survival from habitat loss and persecution by local people. It is this concern that led us in to initiating an investigation of its status from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. Being declared as a Least Concern species, it did not fit in the investment priorities of many agencies making the task of finding support for the project difficult.

We are therefore extremely grateful to WWF New Delhi and Ruffords Small Grant Program, UK for believing in the need to carry out this survey and providing generous financial support for the study. We express our gratitude to Dr. Sejal Vorah CEO, WWF and Dr. Parikshit Gautam, Director, Small Grants Program from WWF and to Dr. Josh Cole and Ms. Jane Raymond of Ruffords Program for facilitating the grant for this survey. We thank Dr. Anjana Pant from WWF for coordinating the grant process.

We thank Mr. S.H. Naqvi, PCCF (Wildlife), Maharashtra State for issuing permission for the study. Our thanks are due to Mr. Anil Mohan, Mr. A.K. Saxena and Mr. A.K. Nigam, Addl PCCFs (Wildlife) for their encouragement and support. Excellent field support was provided by Mr. Kondal Rao, CCF (Pune) and Mr. Mohan Karnat (CCF, Kolhapur) during the survey in Bhimashankar and Koyna WLS.

The research team received wonderful co-operation from all Chief Conservator of Forests and Divisional Conservator of Forests during the survey. In the field, logistic arrangements were made possible with the help of Range Officers of all surveyed ranges so we thank them all. We thank the foresters, guards and watchers for providing required assistance.

Dr. Renee Borges’s name is synonymous with giant squirrel in Maharashtra. We thank Dr. Borges for reviewing the draft report, providing technical inputs and also for several insightful discussions we had with her at Bangalore and Pune on the subject.

We are grateful to Tushar Pawar, Ranjit Sahoo and Evangeline Arulmalar for their sincere participation in the field survey and helping in preparation of the data for the analysis. The occupancy analysis was carried out by Girish Punjabi and we thank him for his intensive inputs in the analysis.

We hope that information provided in this report will be used by the concerned agencies to plan appropriate land-use practices for securing the future of Malabar Giant Squirrel in its home state.
Prachi Mehta & Jayant Kulkarni


Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction

1

1.1

Tropical Forests and Fragmentation

1

1.2

Tropical forests of Western Ghats

2

1.3

Status of Maharashtra Western Ghats

2

1.4

Introduction to Arboreal Squirrels

3

1.5

The Malabar or Indian giant squirrel

5

1.6

Relevance of this Project

8

1.7

Project Objectives

10

Chapter 2

Study Area

11

2.1

Description of Western Ghats of Maharashtra

11

2.2

Details on Survey Locations

12

Chapter 3

Survey Methods

15

3.1

Importance of Species Abundance Measure

15

3.2

Occupancy Model for Estimating Distribution

16

3.3

Methods for Assessing Species Abundance

17

3.4

Threat Assessment

17

3.5

Details of Field Survey

18

Chapter 4

Distribution of Malabar Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

21

4.1

Determinants of Giant Squirrel Distribution in the Study Area

21

4.2

Site-occupancy of Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

27

Chapter 5

Density Estimates of Malabar Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

32

5.1

Determinants of Multipliers

32

5.2

Density of Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

33

Chapter 6

Measure of Giant Squirrel Abundance in Surveyed Areas

36

6.1

Index of Abundance

36

6.2

Nashik District

36

6.3

Ahmednagar District

37

6.4

Thane District

39

6.5

Pune District

40

6.6

Raigad District

50

6.7

Satara District

56

6.8

Sangli District

60

6.9

Kolhapur District

62

6.10

Human-Squirrel Conflict

68

Chapter 7

Status of Malabar Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

69

7.1

Distribution of giant squirrel

69

7.2

Relative Abundance of giant squirrel

71

Chapter 8

Conservation of Malabar Giant Squirrel in Western Ghats of Maharashtra

74

8.1

Current Land-use in the Study Area

74

8.2

Important Areas for Giant Squirrel in the Study Area

76

8.3

Suggestions for Conservation of Giant Squirrel in Study Area

77

8.4

Further Work

80




Literature Cited

82
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