Shola Animals

Malabar Giant Squirrel in shola.

The Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica maxima) is a brightly coloured squirrel that is almost as large as a house cat. It inhabits the moist evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. Giant squirrels live only in forests. They keep to the summit of the higher trees, and seldom if ever come to ground. They move from tree to tree taking amazing leaps with limbs outspread, covering as much as 20 feet in a single bound. They are active and agile animals, most active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening.

The Malabar giant squirrel usually lives alone, or in pairs. Its loud rattling call, oft reapeated, usually reveals its presence. Look for them in the shola opposite Bison Wells.

The Nilgiri Langur (Presbytis johni) is a glossy black monkey with a long tail and yellowish-brown mane. They live in troops of six to eight animals and are exclusive to the southern part of the Western Ghats. At present they have a very diminished presence in the Palni range.

The favourite haunts of these langurs are the sholas or stretches of dense evergreen forest which usually mark the nullahs and watercourses on grass covered slopes. Their early morning whooping hoo, hoo, hoo... call was once a familiar sound in their native forests. It is heard much less now, for constant persecution has sadly reduced these langurs. The beauty of their fur and the supposed medicinal value of their flesh, blood, and organs have caused them to be hunted more than any other species of Indian monkey, and have made them the most wary and unapproachable of all their tribe. Added to this, the extensive destruction of its habitat makes this monkey another endangered Indian mammal.

While you breakfast on the open verandah at Bison Wells, listen for their exuberant call which still occasionally rings over the treetops down in the thickly wooded valley before you, and share with them the joy of staying alive!

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