The wild life lovers and specially the environmentalists are deeply concerned about the fact that ‘Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) the rare species of rodent family’ may soon be a matter of past, unless and until urgent actions are taken to protect them.
Although the red squirrel is protected in most of Europe, as it is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention. But they are not fully safe either. In some areas they are killed for their fur while in other areas they are in decline due to rise in population of their gray friends (Gray Squirrels).
As per the report by Oxford University’s wildlife conservation unit for the People’s Trust for Endangered Species; Red squirrels could be extinct within 20 years.
Reds arrived in UK (England) 10,000 years ago, but the introduction of the grey squirrel from North America way back in 1876 has brought the population of red squirrels from 3.5m to a current population of just 15,000 in England.
The authorities in Scotland (which is considered to be the home of almost 75% of UK’s red squirrels) have taken this matter very seriously and termed the recent incident of decline of red squirrels in the region as their race against time’.
The problem that persists in Scotland is basically a natural phenomenon, but no body wants this historic little creature to get vanished. The over mingling of larger number of gray squirrels with the red squirrels has brought such situation, at which population of gray squirrels are on the rise at the cost of red squirrel’s decline. The frequent mating of Reds with the Grays might be the reason that brings one such situation. It is worth to be mentioned here that gray squirrels are already larger in number anywhere in the world.
Perth and Kinross Council’s website says that the Red Squirrel, over the last few months have gone from red to grey. This means that grey squirrel has practically outnumbered the already endangered a handful population of Red Squirrels in the vicinity of Scotland.
Few volunteers meanwhile have decided to raise awareness about this lovely creature, so that people all over the world could actually recognize this rare species before it may get extinct.
‘Red Squirrel Watch volunteers of Scotland’ a voluntary group of four member is continuously trying to raise awareness of the Red Squirrels’ endangered status and encourage people to control the non-native grays (read common Squirrels) which threaten the reds.
In India the presence of red Squirrels is close to non-existent, but the real concern is about the existence of grey Squirrels. In southern parts of Bihar (Indian state), and in other adjoining areas, certain tribal communities do hunt them for food. This could be the reason behind continuous dip in squirrel’s population.
Many people are still unaware of this practice because such practice of hunting squirrels is frequently done deeper inside the forests where such tribal people reside. It is no wonder that because of this, animal lovers, activists and media could not bring such issues to the spotlight.