Distribution and relative abundance of Indian Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista philippensis) in Gujarat, India
Keywords:Arboreal, encounter rate, protected areas, rodents, western India
We assessed the distribution pattern and abundance of Petaurista philippensis in the state of Gujarat, India. Itis the only species of flying squirrel found in the western states of India. The species was distributed on a large geographic area with confined populations in the eastern dry and moist deciduous forest stretch with tall trees within the state. During the study period, 33 times flying squirrels were encountered at 14 sites in 7 districts, concentrated mainly in protected areas. The overall encounter rate was 0.50 individuals/km among which, the central districts of Gujarat showed the highest while the north-east districts showed the lowest abundance of P. philippensis. It was found to be a tree-dwelling species, positively associated with old-growth forests with tall trees. The abundance rates were found to be associated with forest degradation and hunting practices. Illegal hunting practices persists in some areas of Gujarat, may affect the population number and trend. Apart from forest degradation and fragmentation, hunting for domestic consumption, ethnomedicinal uses, traditions, and human-made forest fires were the major potent threats of flying squirrels as found during the present study.
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