Project Leader: Sanjan Thapa

Location: Nepal

A report on the status of squirrel and threats for its conservation in Nepal was prepared by Sagar Dahal and Sanjan Thapa. The study focused on the status and conservation of Squirrels of Nepal. 248 species of squirrels present in the world. Nepal harbors 11 species with different global conservation status; Belomys pearsonii (Data Defecient, DD), Callosciurus pygerythrus (Least Concern, LC), Funambulus pennanti (LC), Hylopetes alboniger (LC), Petaurista elegans (Least LC), Petaurista magnificus (Not Threatened, NT), Petaurista nobilis (Vulnerable, VU), Petaurista petaurista (LC), Ratufa bicolor (NT) and Tamiops macclellandii (LC) (IUCN, 2010).

Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P) Workshop report also supports the presence of 11 species with different regional and national status: one Endangered (EN), two VU, three NT, five (LC) regionally and two EN, two VU, two NT, two NT, two LC, and three DD ( Molur et al. 2005). Hylopetes alboniger is EN, Callosciurus pygerythrus is VU and Ratufa bicolor is enlisted in CITES list (Verheugt et al. 1995, Baral and Shah 2008). P. nobilis is the endemic species to Bhutan, India and Nepal. Squirrels are distributed from Tarai, mid hills to Mountain region of Nepal through altitudinal range 63-3300 above sea level. Collection of specimen and study in squirrels of Nepal started from Hodgson 1822-1858. Petaurista magnifus is named as Hodgson’s Giant Flying Squirrel. Ellerman and Morrison – Scott 1951 on preparation of Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian Mammals” included Ratufa bicolor from eastern Nepal is one of the largest squirrels in the world. Weigel 1969 reported Irrawady squirrrel from Rapti Valley. Mitchell 1979 published “The Sciurid Rodents ( Rodentia: Scuridae) of Nepal based upon literatures and museum specimens survey as well as information collections from field visits. This is the first literature only on squirrel of Nepal. We went through the literature and corresponded to the locals while stating the threats to the Squirrels in Nepal. The major threats found were habitat loss from the resulting from shifting (jhum) agriculture, small scale and selecting logging, clear cutting of forest, establishment of human settlements, forest fires and hunting for local consumption, fur trade and kept in captivity as pet animal( Molur et al. 2005). The skin of the animal is also used as spiritual protecting ornament against devil (Butti). Squirrels are also mistaken for Civet and considered as pest. We found the retaliatory killing in the Makalu Barun National Park area, Sankhuwasabha district.