Trees for Indian Giant Flying Squirrels
Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan, India
Available for Adoption: 20,000 Trees
13,000 Trees Adopted by DCB BANK for the FY 2019-20
Trees for benefit of Indian Giant Flying Squirrels
Plantation of trees in the community lands of the villages of Samplipathar, BorankhedaKundal ganava, Kaliyakund, Surajpura, Kataro ki bhi, Khadiyavani, Belari, Kherot, and Kerwas at the fringes of Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary in Pratapgarh, Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan.
- Restore the surrounding areas of the Sanctuary to develop the habitat for the Giant Flying Squirrels.
- Mitigate the anthropogenic pressure in the core-areas by developing the buffer area at the periphery.
- Provide forest products to the community to provide steady means of income.
- Conserve the soil and water resources in the villages.
With changing land use and developmental activities, biodiversity in the low-lying areas faces a genuine threat. Habitat degradation, fragmentation, encroachment, anthropogenic pressure, and occasional poaching are major issues of the area. Poaching and habitat loss have been mentioned as the prime threats to the Giant Squirrel, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is due to the habitat fragmentation, owed to the loss of trees, that which has made locomotion difficult for the species and has resulted in the loss of shelter, thus, making them vulnerable to poaching. The plantation at the periphery will provide livelihood opportunities to the people, further preventing them from venturing into the forest and protecting the animals and their habitats. The Food and Agricultural Organisation also mentions the importance of Non-Timber Forest Products in the subsistence livelihoods practised by the local forest communities.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, some Indian Giant Flying Squirrels of tropical India and south-eastern Asia weigh 1 to 2.5 kg (2.2 to 5.5 pounds) and have a body length of about 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches) and a tail 35 to 64 cm long. Although these rodents do not fly, they glide up to 450 meters (almost 1,500 feet). The Indian Giant Flying Squirrel is a mammal that lives in tree cavities and tree canopies. The IUCN in 2008 described its population as "decreasing"; scientists have advocated planting trees to protect the species. Habitat loss and degradation resulting from logging, shifting cultivation, expansion of human settlements, and forest fires are considered to be threats for the survival of this species. We have, therefore, initiated this project for planting in areas adjacent to the Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, which has a population of such squirrels.
According to B.K.Sharma's Faunal Heritage of Rajasthan, India (2013), “Elliot’s Giant Flying Squirrel has been recorded from dense forests of Phulwari, Sitamata, and Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuaries and avoids agricultural fields, grasslands, and human settlements. It is the next giant rodent after Porcupine in the state which was initially believed to be confined to Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary. Protection of old Mahuwa (Madhuca indica) groves and planting of new Mahuwa trees in the distribution range of flying squirrel and awareness programs in tribal zones have been suggested to protect this species.”
Their diet consists mainly of, but not limited to, fruits and leaves of ficus trees. They do not eat insects, but besides leaves and fruits, they also eat bark and flowers, making them extremely dependent on forest resources for their dietary needs. Since more light at the edge of forest results in more leaves, feeding is more common at the edge of a forest. The flying squirrels are found to be selective in their diet in Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary consuming 13 plant species and 8 plant parts in their summer diets. Mahua trees are the primary source of their feeding and have been planted as a part of this tree plantation initiative
Tree Species planted here include Amla (Emblica officinalis), Khair (Acacia catechu), Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris), Babul (Acacia nilotica), Churail (Holoptelea integrifolia), Siris (Albizia lebbeck) Karanj (Pongamia pinnata), Sitaphal (Annona squamosa), Baheda (Terminalia bellirica), Bel (Aegle Marmelos), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Khakra (Butea monosperma), and Kanji (Acacia spp.).
Flora and Fauna
Trees like mahua (Madhuca longifolia), teak (Tectona grandis), dhao(Dracontomelon dao), bamboo(Bambusa vulgaris), ber(Ziziphus mauritiana), sadad(Terminalia arjuna) grow here in addition to the Ground Orchids(Spathoglottis plicata) which form a distinct species of the region. The popular mammal species is the Indian giant flying squirrel and animal species at this location include chausingha, chital, nilgai, jungle cat, jackal, leopard, fox, hyena.
The bird species found here include the red turtle dove, parakeet, golden oriole, paradise flycatcher, blue-cheeked bee-eater, white-necked stork, red-vented bulbul, gray heron, white breasted kingfisher.
The arboreal and nocturnal species, listed in the IUCN Red list has been marked under concerned species and their conservation is important to conserve the diverse fauna of the country that contributes to the gene pool. The trees will provide proper habitat to the species, like food, shelter and the means of locomotion thereby helping in their conservation.
Creating rural jobs, in remote areas where jobs are rare, in the nursery, planting and post-planting activity, amongst the tribal people, especially women. The 25,000 trees to be planted will create approximately 2046 workdays of jobs in the nursery and planting activities alone. This will prevent the community to indulge in activities like poaching. Also, the involvement of the community during the plantation process will make them aware about the importance of conservation of the natural habitat of the area. These trees will provide flowers, fruit, fodder and fuel to rural communities and living creatures, improve water catchment, generate oxygen, reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, fight climate change and benefit the Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, a species decreasing in numbers.
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