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Ratufa bicolor

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SCIURIDAE

Scientific Name: Ratufa bicolor
Species Authority: (Sparrman, 1778)
Common Name(s):
English Black Giant Squirrel, Malayan Giant Squirrel
French Écureuil Géant De Malaisie
Taxonomic Notes: Ratufa bicolor possibly represents a complex of several similar species. Further studies are needed to clarify the taxonomic status of populations currently allocated to this species

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Walston, J., Duckworth, J.W. & Molur, S.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Cox, N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Near Threatened because this species is in significant decline (but at a rate of less than 30% over ten years or three generations) because it is being over-harvested for food, and because of widespread habitat loss through much of its range, making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion A2cd.
History:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This widespread Asian species ranges from northern South Asia, through southern China into much of mainland and western insular Southeast Asia. In South Asia, this species has been recorded widely distributed in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and West Bengal), and eastern Nepal (distribution poorly recorded) at elevations of 500 to 2,500 m asl (Molur et al. 2005). In China, the species has been recorded from southern Yunnan, southern Guanxi, eastern Xizang and Hainan Island (Smith and Xie 2008). In Southeast Asia, it is widely but patchily distributed from Myanmar and Thailand, through Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Peninsular Malaysia (possibly a more contiguous range here), to Indonesia (Mentawi Islands, Sumatra, Billiton, Panaitan, Java and Bali).
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population of this species is declining in South Asia, but the rate of decline is unknown (Molur et al. 2005). In Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Thailand the species is abundant in suitable habitat where hunting is controlled. It is easily eradicated from fragmented habitat (Duckwoth pers. comm.). In Lao PDR it is recorded from most survey areas; however, populations are now so low in some areas that it has not been recorded in recent surveys, including Sangthong District, Nam Et and Phou Louey NBCAs (Duckworth et al. 1999). It was found to be locally common during a survey in 1994-95 of the the Nadi Limestone area in Lao PDR by Evans et al. (2000). It is still widespread and abundant in Cambodia, largely as hunting has not yet impacted populations in this country (R. J. Timmins pers. comm.). This species was rarely found in a survey conducted by Saiful and Nordin (2004) in Peninsular Malaysia (Weng River catchment area). This species is rare and declining on Java, where it is found only in remote areas (away from human habitation) within remaining patches of forest (primary and secondary) (Boeadi pers. comm.). This species is declining in population, in parallel with forest loss on Java (Boeadi pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In South Asia, it is a diurnal and arboreal species occasionally feeding on the forest floor. It occurs in tropical and subtropical montane evergreen and dry deciduous forests. It is found to occupy tree hollows in mid high canopy (Molur et al. 2005). In Lao PDR, Evans et al. (2000) found this species to be common in evergreen and semi-evergreen broadleaf forest, and rarely present in pine forest. It is found from the plains up to at least 1,400 m (Duckworth et al. 1999). It has been suggested that one of the reasons for low densities of this species in Malaysian tropical rain forest is competition from the great variety of other arboreal vertebrates (such as birds, and especially primates) for food, especially fruits and leaves, which are among the food items preferred by squirrels (Saiful and Nordin 2004). This species feeds on pine cones and oak trees on Java (Boeadi pers. comm.). It is not tolerant of habitat modification, and has a long generation time of eight to nine years, with a litter size of one or two young.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Human induced habitat degradation due to shifting (jhum) agriculture practices, small-scale logging, clear-cutting, forest fires, expansion of human settlement, harvesting for local consumption have been observed to be major threats for this species in South Asia (Molur et al. 2005). It is threatened by hunting and habitat loss in China (Wang et al. 1989). This species is especially vulnerable to hunting and habitat loss (often through logging operations) in Lao PDR (Evans et al. 2000), Viet Nam and Thailand. This species was "formerly one of the most commonly sold mammals in the That Luang fresh food market in Vientiane" (Duckworth et al. 1999). Hunting pressure is predicted to increase in Cambodia, as following the overharvesting of large bodied mammals, smaller species are now being targeted (W. Duckworth pers. comm.). It is not hunted on Java, as people are generally aware of the legislation protecting this species; however, habitat loss remains a considerable threat (Boeadi pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is included in the Schedule II (Part II) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is known from the following protected areas in India and Bangladesh - India: Eagle's Nest Wildlife Sanctuary, Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, Namdapha National Park, Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Tale Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Gorumara Wildlife Sanctuary, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal; Bangladesh: Lawachara National Park (Molur et al. 2005). Survey, life history, limiting factors studies and monitoring are recommended for this species in South Asia (Molur et al. 2005). In Southeast Asia, it occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range, including Gunung Masigit Kareumbi Hunting Park, Pananjung Pangandaran Nature Reserve, and Ujong Kulon National Park in Java (Boeadi pers. comm.). Saiful and Nordin (2004) state the need for further comparative study on this species' abundance, density and distribution and its relationship to forest structure or habitat quality, spatially and temporally, in hill dipterocarp forest of Malaysia. This species is protected from hunting by legislation in Java (Boeadi pers. comm.). It is listed on CITES Appendix II regulating international trade in this species.

Citation: Walston, J., Duckworth, J.W. & Molur, S. 2008. Ratufa bicolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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