Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grizzled Giant Squirrel - Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

A photograph of a Grizzled Giant Squirrel taken in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) - Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

The Grizzled Giant Squirrel is a large tree squirrel found in Sri Lanka and India. According to the IUCN, it is a "vulnerable" species which is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. As a result, it can be found on the IUCN's "Red List" of threatened species.

More photographs inside.

A photograph of a Grizzled Giant Squirrel taken in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
 Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) - Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

I have seen Giant Squirrels in Colombo, Anuradhapura and in the central hills of Sri Lanka. Considering it's range, I was actually quite surprised to hear that it was on the Red List. These photographs were taken in July when I came across Giant Squirrels on two occasions while in Anuradhapura.

A photograph of a Grizzled Giant Squirrel taken in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) - Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

One of my cousins found a Giant Squirrel for sale in a market in Colombo a few years ago (people have them caged as pets).  She bought it and looked after it for sometime before releasing it in the garden. After it was released the squirrel was often seen in the trees around the house and would visit the kitchen for a hand out of fresh fruit on a fairly regular basis.  We were pleasantly surprised when she found a mate in the heart of the city (the male was much bigger than she was and also darker in colour). She also gave birth to a single pup which we saw on a number of occasions.

A photograph of a Grizzled Giant Squirrel taken in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) - Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

The Giant Squirrel is fairly easy to see as it runs along branches feeding on fruit, leaves and the occasional insect. On the two occasions when I saw it in July, the rustling leaves gave away its location as it moved from branch to branch.

These photographs were taken with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens.



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