Feeding and nesting ecology of Indian giant squirrel Ratufa indica (erxleben,1777) in Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary, Balasore, Odisha, India and its conservation.
Author(s): Basanta Kumar Nayak*, Ajay Kumar Patr
The Indian Giant Squirrel (IGS) Ratufa indica, an endemic species to India is widely distributed in the peninsular India from the ever green to mixed moist and dry deciduous forest of Western and Eastern Ghats and central Indian Hills. We studied its activity pattern, feeding and nesting behavior in the selected sites of Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary during 2008-2012. A total of 8640 minutes of observation spent using Focal Animal Sampling Method to study activity budget, feeding and nesting patterns of IGS reveals that the animal spends maximum time in feeding (58%) followed by resting (34%), movement (6.8%) and other activity (1.2%) of its daily activity. The diet of IGS constitutes seed, bark, petiole, leaf, flower and fruit from 23 species of plants belonging to 15 families with Terminalia tomentosa as the most significant contributor i.e20.04% to the diet of the animal followed by Tamarindus indica (17.1%) and Mangifera indica (13.1%). Seeds formed the highest bulk of the IGH diet i.e. 29.4% followed by leaf (18.2%), flower (12.8%), fruit (11.7%) and bark (11.3%). Nesting characteristics assessed through 44 nests shows that IGS uses 15 species of plant belonging to 14 families with highest preference to Shorea robusta (20%) followed by Schleicheria oleosa (17.5%) and Terminalia tomentosa (15.0%). Nest trees are taller in height, larger in GBH and canopy contiguity which are attributed to easy movement and better protection and escape from predators like Langur and Rhesus monkey. Habitat restoration, reduction in anthropogenic pressure and systematic scientific research are measures suggested for management and sustainable conservation of Indian Giant Squirrel in the study area.
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