A giant bond with humans

 thehindu.com  09/16/2020 17:09:14 

The bond between a Malabar giant squirrel and the shopkeepers around the Sims Park in Coonoor has become a source of great interest among locals as well as visiting tourists.

The squirrel, which has been visiting the fruit shops around the park for the last two years, has become a much-loved visitor among local residents, who have gotten accustomed to seeing the animal in close quarters.

S. Vidhyashree, a local Coonoor resident, said that she had first seen the animal collecting fruits from the shopkeepers around the park. Since then, I have seen it a few more times, right next to the fruit shops, and many people now come to the Sims Park to catch a sight of the animal, she said.

Nazeema, a local shopkeeper who sells fruits around the Sims Park, said that she used to hand-feed the animal. However, it was explained to me that I should not be encouraging this behaviour and so I have stopped, said Ms. Nazeema, who had to close her fruit shop for the last six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As there were no tourists coming to the park, and all the shops had closed down, I thought that the squirrel would have moved somewhere else or would not recognise the shopkeepers. To our surprise, the animal returned the very first day it saw us, said Ms. Nazeema, adding that shopkeepers no longer actively feed the animal any fruits to discourage it from getting close to humans.

Even though we have stopped feeding it, the squirrel still seems to like to hang around the shops, and we are extremely pleased to see it every day and know that it is safe, she said.

Forest officials said that it was uncommon for the Malabar giant squirrel, which usually inhabits pockets of Shola forests in the Nilgiris and are known to be shy and reclusive, to strike up such a close bond with humans. They said that they are actively discouraging the shopkeepers from encouraging the animal to stray out of its habitat.

The problem with encouraging this kind of behaviour is that the animal might get too close to humans and come to harm as it becomes an easy target for poachers or even for stray dogs. As a result, we have told the people to not feed this animal or any wildlife so that they do not become habituated to humans, said an official.

*Our Digital Subscription plans do not currently include the e-paper ,crossword, iPhone, iPad mobile applications and print. Our plans enhance your reading experience.

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism

Dear subscriber,

Thank you!

Your support for our journalism is invaluable. Its a support for truth and fairness in journalism. It has helped us keep apace with events and happenings.

The Hindu has always stood for journalism that is in the public interest. At this difficult time, it becomes even more important that we have access to information that has a bearing on our health and well-being, our lives, and livelihoods. As a subscriber, you are not only a beneficiary of our work but also its enabler.

We also reiterate here the promise that our team of reporters, copy editors, fact-checkers, designers, and photographers will deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Suresh Nambath

« Go back