Madhya Pradesh/ Near-extinct flying squirrel, Chousingha, Chinkara found in West Kalibhit forest near Khandwa

Khalwa (Sachin Tiwari): Rare and near-extinct species of wild animals have been found in the West Kalibhit forest near Khandwa. These include flying squirrels, chinkaras, and chausingha or four-horned antelope. 

The body of a flying squirrel has been found, while chausingha has been captured in CCTV cameras. Chausingha was given protection like tiger by the Government of India in 1972. 

A ranger posted in Kanha Kisli helped in finding the rare animals. Chinkara and chausingha are also found in the same forest. The Forest Department has not come up with any plan for their conservation.

Ranger set up cameras: Ranger Uttam Singh Sastia, posted in Khalwa General Forest Division, was transferred from Kanha Kisli. He has identified 10 places in the forest where the water remains even in summer and the wild animals come to drink water. Taking advantage of the experience at Kanha Kisli Forest Sanctuary, he deepened the water bodies and installed high quality and night vision cameras. He set up the cameras himself. He got encouraging results. He captured three rare and near-extinct animals on camera. It is a flying squirrel and chausingha. According to Sastia, chausingha of this forest is healthier than Kisli. Forest Minister Umang Singhar has awarded Sastia for the counting of wild animals.

Chousingha a popular target of trophy hunters: The four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), or chousingha, is a small antelope found in India and Nepal. This antelope has four horns, which distinguish it from most other bovids. Four-horned antelopes tend to inhabit areas with significant grass cover or heavy undergrowth, and avoid human settlements. Earlier common throughout deciduous forests in India, the antelope now occurs in widely disjunct, small populations. Most of the populations are in India, and lower numbers can be found in adjoining Nepal. The four-horned antelope is threatened by the loss of its natural habitat due to agricultural expansion. Moreover, the unusual four-horned skull and the horns have been a popular target for trophy hunters.

Flying squirrel rare in MP: There are 45 species of flying squirrels in the world. 12 of these are found in India. It is a nocturnal species. It cannot fly, but it glides as front and back legs have membranes. They leap with their legs to go from tree to tree and glide like flying birds. They can fly maximum of 20 to 40 feet. They have a lifespan of six years. The carcass of a squirrel of this species has been found on the side of a reservoir. It has been estimated that they occur in the forest. It is rare in Madhya Pradesh, but its numbers are more in Sita Mata Sanctuary of Rajasthan. A three feet long flying squirrel was found in the forest of Kosonda in Chhattisgarh. The length of the squirrel found in Khalwa is also about the same.