The Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is one of four species of giant squirrels in the world. It is endemic to India and its populations are severely fragmented. The ecology of squirrels in Asia has been little studied, hindering conservation and management efforts. We studied the Indian giant squirrel’s nesting and feeding habits during spring in the Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, India. We surveyed 122.5 km of natural trails for direct observation of these squirrels, their nests and feeding evidence, and we sampled plot–based quadrats to assess the availability of resources. We used Manly’s resource selection function and log–likelihood test ratios to analyse the data for preference. The mean encounter rate of the Indian giant squirrel was 0.57 (± 0.18 SD) individuals/km. Haldinia cordifolia (Wi = 4.899, p < 0.001) and Mangifera indica (Wi = 4.322, p = 0.001) were the preferred tree for nesting, whereas Xylia xylocarpa (31.30%) and Bauhinia vahlii (28.24%) were the most commonly eaten plants. Nest site preference was for taller tree species. As current management practices directly damage the preferred nesting sites and food resources, our findings aim to promote effective conservation of the Indian giant squirrel.
Giant squirrel ecology, Forest management, Nest tree selection, Nest structure, Food preference, NTFP (non–timber forest products) collection
Reception date: 15 II 15 | Acceptation date: 4 X 16 | Publication date: 25 I 17
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