Plan afoot to protect giant squirrel habitat near Pune

A peculiar animal known for its shyness and lightening pace, the Ratusa Indica species of the Indian giant squirrel is an attraction of the wildlife enthusiasts visiting the Bhimashankar forest, which also happens to house a famous Shiv temple, one of the 12 "Jyotirlignas", in its fold.

"In coordination with IISc, we are working out a Geographical Information System (GIS) map to identify threats to the existence of the squirrel to know whether the forest area occupied by it is shrinking or not," Conservator of Forests (wildlife) M K Rao told PTI.

At present a census of the animal is being carried out by counting of its nests in the forest and the proposed GIS map is also expected to denote the human disturbance index.

"A healthy forest is needed to support the squirrel, which sustains itself on just leaves and fruit and efforts are being made to ensure that the landscape continues to bear this unique species," Rao said.

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