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Southern flying squirrel spotted after more than four decades

For the first time in 43 years, the presence of the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) was documented in Honduras in a site of the forest management plan Las Lechuzas in the municipality of Concordia, department of Olancho. This makes Honduras the southernmost distribution currently known for this flying squirrel species.

This discovery was made possible due to a project of El Aserradero Sansone, a company conducting sustainable forestry activities in Honduras, which confirmed that there is at least one population of G. volans in the country, at the Las Lechuzas site.

Although this species has been classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – meaning it has stable populations – it is considered “Data Deficient” on the Red List of Honduras species. Thus, due to the low number of records and the currently high rate of destruction of pine forests in the country, this squirrel should be a priority for conservation. 

The southern flying squirrel is at greater risk when its nests are disturbed, so scientists from Sansone are considering the use of artificial nests to protect this population. The experts will also increase efforts to improve the quantity and quality of tree seedlings, while educating people in the community about the urgent need to protect pine ecosystems and the rare animals they shelter.

Furthermore, since there is no record of G. volans in any protected area from Honduras, 836.63 of the 3,139.62 hectares of the management plan of Las Lechuzas have been declared as hydrological protection zones. 

“As a professional with an experience of 43 years, I capitalize on the detection of the flying squirrel as an event that opens the doors to the true dimension posed by the Honduran forest law in the proper administrative management,” said study co-author José Muñoz, a researcher at Sansone.

“That includes biodiversity conservation and protection and rationality of the protection of natural resources. The latter turns out to be of greater importance in view of the strong social pressures in favor of the conversion of the use of forest land destined for extensive agriculture and livestock, as well as the environmental impacts caused by climate change that are being sustained by the mismanagement of our resources.”

The study is published in the journal Check List.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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