… it is one of the world’s rarest mammals

Chhimi Dema

The woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus), one of the world’s rarest mammals, is spotted in the Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), demonstrating the park’s rich biodiversity and conservation significance.

The animal species was captured in a camera trap set up in Lunana on October 30, 2020, during a mammal survey conducted by the park.

Direct sighting and signs, including tracks, scats, dung, pellets and scratch marks, were recorded in the park.

The animal was predicted to be present in Bhutan due to its range connecting Tibet and north Sikkim but confirmation of its presence wasn’t established until recently.

The woolly flying squirrel was considered extinct for 70 years until it was discovered in Pakistan in 1994.

The article confirming the woolly flying squirrel was published by four foresters, Yonten Jamtsho, Pema Dendup, Leki Wangdi, and Rinzin Dorji, from the Department of Forests and Park Services under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

A forester, Yonten Jamtsho, said that the squirrel’s presence indicates that the animal’s habitat is intact in the country.

According to the article, “First confirmed record of a woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus sp.) in Bhutan”, the woolly flying squirrel shares their habitat with other mammals, including the snow leopard, red fox, and musk, and birds such as the Tibetan snowcock as revealed by camera trap images from the same location.

The woolly flying squirrel had long, thick fur on its head and body, and the basal part of the tail was grizzled grey. The distal half of the tail was black. Both fore and hind limbs were black. The ears were pointed and hairy, externally black and internally a washed white.

The article stated that the discovery of a species of woolly flying squirrel adds to recent sightings of a Spotted Linsang (Prionodon pardicolor) and Pallas’ cat (Otocolobus manul) highlighting the park’s rich biodiversity and conservation significance.

The park also notes the presence of squirrels such as coloured flying (Hylopetes alboniger), Bhutan giant flying (Petaurista nobilis), and red giant flying (Petaurista petaurista).