Ratufa macroura 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Ratufa macroura (Pennant, 1769)
Common Name(s):
English Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel, Grizzled Giant Squirrel
French Écureuil Géant De Ceylan, Écureuil Géant Gris
Ratufa macroura ssp. sinhala Phillips, 1931
Ratufa macrurus ssp. albipes Blyth, 1859
Sciurus ceilonensis Boddaert, 1785
Sciurus ceylonensis Erxleben, 1777
Sciurus ceylonica (Erxleben, 1777)
Sciurus macrourus Pennant, 1769
Sciurus macrourus var. monatnus Kelaart, 1852
Sciurus macrourus var. montana (Kelaart, 1852)
Sciurus macrura Blanford, 1891
Sciurus tennentii Blyth, 1849
Sciurus zeyllanicus Day, 1693
Taxonomic Notes: There are three very distinct subspecies, with one present in India and all three present in Sri Lanka. Ellerman (1961) listed three subspecies that were accepted later by Moore and Tate (1965), Phillips (1981) and Corbet and Hill (1992).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Joshua, J., de A. Goonatilake, W.L.D.P.T.S. & Molur, S.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. & Cox, N.A.
Listed as Near Threatened because this species is probably in significant decline (but probably at a rate of less than 30% over ten years or three generations) because of habitat loss and hunting throughout much of its range. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion A2c. Remaining populations in India appears to be significantly more threatened than populations in Sri Lanka.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to southern India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka. In India it is known from only five severely fragmented locations, while it occurs more widely and less fragmented in Sri Lanka (Molur et al. 2005). It ranges in elevations of 150 to 500 m asl in India and up to 2,500 m asl in Sri Lanka.
Countries occurrence:
India; Sri Lanka
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:>2,000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Within India, the total population in Chinnar and adjoining Tamil Nadu is about 300 individuals. In addition the most southerly population has 300 individuals, the second most southernly population about 200 individulals. The most northerly population, Kartanar, had about 6 squirrels in 1989 and 3 individuals in 2001. The population in India in the north is decreasing, the population in the south is increasing (J. Joshua pers. comm.). The Indian population has been estimated to be fewer than 500 mature individuals, and the population has been decling at a rate greater than 30% in the last 25 years and is also predicted to decline at the same rate in the next 25 years due to habitat loss and hunting (Molur et al. 2005). The population of this species is considerably higher in Sri Lanka.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a diurnal and arboreal species. It occurs in tropical dry deciduous and montane forests, where it is confined to the riverine habitats (Molur et al. 2005). It has a generation time of ~7-8 years.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and degradation due to agro-industry farming, small-scale logging, selective logging, increase in human settlements, forest fire, inter-specific competition, competition from alien species, hunting for local consumption purposes, presence of domestic predators have been observed to be the major threats for this species in South Asia (Molur et al. 2005). Within India, hybridization between this species and Ratufa indica is considered to be a major threat to remaining populations (Joshua 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed under the Schedule I (Part I) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972), and is listed on CITES Appendix II regulating international trade in this species. It is known from the following protected areas in India and Sri Lanka - India: Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala; Sri Lanka: Horton Plains National Park, Central Province and Sinharaja Reserve Forest, Sabargamuwa Province (Molur et al. 2005). Survey, taxonomic research and monitoring are recommended for this species (Molur et al. 2005). Ex-situ conservation efforts might be required for the Indian population (Molur et al. 2005).

Amended [top]

Amended reason: It has been brought to our attention that "This species is listed in the Schedule I (Part I) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, India." this information has been added to the conservation actions section.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Corbet, G.B. and Hill, J.E. 1992. Mammals of the Indo-Malayan Region: a Systematic Review. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Ellerman, J.R. 1961. Rodentia. The fauna of India including Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. Mammalia, Manager of Publications, Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta, USA.

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Joshua, J. 1996. Interbreeding between Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Ratufa macroura (Pennant) and Malabar Giant Squirrel, R. indica (Erxleben). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 93: 82-83.

Joshua J. and Johnsingh, A. J. T. 1993. Impact of biotic disturbances on the habitat and population of the endangered grizzled giant squirrel Ratufa macroura in South India. Biological Conservation 68: 29-34.

Molur, S., Srinivasulu, C., Srinivasulu, B., Walker, S., Nameer, P.O. and Ravikumar, L. 2005. Status of non-volant small mammals: Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P) workshop report. Zoo Outreach Organisation / CBSG-South Asia., Comibatore, India.

Moore, J.C. and Tate, G.H.H. 1965. A study of the diurnal squirrels, Sciurinae, of the Indian and Indo-Chinese subregions. Fieldiana Zoologica 48: 1-351.

Phillips, W.W.A. 1980. Manual of the Mammals of Sri Lanka. Part 1. Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka.

Phillips, W.W.A. 1981. Manual of the Mammals of Sri Lanka. Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka.

Citation: Joshua, J., de A. Goonatilake, W.L.D.P.T.S. & Molur, S. 2017. Ratufa macroura (amended version of 2008 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T19381A117059627. . Downloaded on 25 April 2018.
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