|indianwildlife.org : Indian Giant Squirrel|
The digital mapping, carried out for the first time, will help the department to identify the corridor gaps of the Indian Giant Squirrel and accordingly strategise conservation measures.
M K Rao conservator of forest, Pune, told TOI that distance sampling census methodology, a method used for estimating the density and/or abundance of population is being used. The animal density will be estimated through direct counts using line transect methods, which was used in Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary for Gaurs and Sambars.
This digital mapping will help to know the actual area density occupied by the Indian Giant Squirrel. It will be completed in a month's time, he said "The digital mapping includes Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) that will help us know whether the area has shrunk or not and also about the Giant Indian Squirrel population. This will help in proper management of the forest and its protection,'' he said.
In the year 2009-10, the forest department had counted 3,495 old nests of Indian Giant Squirrel and 4,292 new ones. It is said that one squirrel builds 5-6 nests. Thus, the approximate count was 715 squirrels in Bhimashankar Sanctuary in 2009-10.
Rao pointed out that this endangered squirrel needs continous canopy, but now the pathways are being cut off. "This digital mapping will help us to know about the corridor gaps and give us tips about how to bridge the canopy corridors. Proper management intervention from the department will be taken up accordingly," he said.
It will be a benchmark data based on reliable and scientific information. At present, the count of nests occupied by Indian Giant Squirrel is going on, he said.
Recently, a two-day workshop on 'capacity building of forest staff with focus on Indian Giant Squirrel' was organised by the forest department (wildlife). The experts attending the workshop had pointed out that human interference in Bhimashankar sanctuary was putting pressure on the forest and wildlife. The sanctuary has to be protected from human disturbance and measures to reduce the pressure have to be identified.