Southern Flying Squirrel rediscovered in Honduras after 43 years

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The Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) was spotted in an area where forestry and silvicultural activities are carried out for the sustainable exploitation of pine logging and timber.

The presence of The Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) was documented in Honduras for the first time after 43 years. The record is from a site of the forest management plan called “Las Lechuzas”, municipality of Concordia, department of Olancho.

Apart from this newly confirmed location, the species has also been recorded in Zambrano, department of Francisco Morazán in 1935, in Gracias, department of Lempira, and finally in the Department of paradise in 1979. Based on these records, Honduras is considered the southernmost distribution known for this species.

G.volans before it started to glide to the oaks. Photograph by MATC.

The discovery was possible thanks to a project of El Aserradero Sansone, a company focused on sustainable forestry activities in Honduras, and is published in a research article in the peer-reviewed journal Check List.

This finding confirmed that there is at least one population of G. volans in the country, at the Las Lechuzas site, which is currently also the southernmost locality known in its global distribution. 

The species has been assessed as Least Concern by the IUCN (meaning it has stable populations), but is considered Data Deficient on the Red List of Honduran species.  Considering the low number of records and the high rate of destruction of pine forests in Honduras, G. volans is a priority for conservation in the country.

Part of the team that helped to encounter the squirrel. Photograph by MATC.

In support of the conservation of the biodiversity of Las Lechuzas, the company Sansone is now committed to giving priority to the conservation of G. volans in the area. The use of artificial shelters for G. volans is also being studied, as the animal is at greater risk when its nests are disturbed.

Based on recommendations suggested in the study, Sansone will work to increase the quantity and quality of tree seedlings that will grow in the canopy and educate people in the community about the need to protect pine ecosystems and rare animals. Additionally, within the 3,139.62 ha of the management plan of Las Lechuzas, there are 836.63 ha that have been declared as hydrological protection zones. Currently, there is no record of G. volans in any protected area of Honduras.

“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. 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 is being sustained by the mismanagement of our resources,”

says José Muñoz, one of the authors in the study.


About El Aserradero Sansone:

El Aserradero Sansone was founded in 1957, characterized by compliance with the laws of Honduras, especially those related to forest management. It has developed an evolutionary and progressive process of achievements in the implementation of management plans, including such related to the evaluation of environmental impacts.

In this sense, the environmental importance in the management of natural resources has continued to promote evolution, defining the need to venture into aspects related to the conservation of flora and fauna as well as the incidence of climatic and environmental factors in the administration of natural resources. Within this responsibility, the last challenge that the company Sansone is welcoming with great optimism lies in adhering to the international criteria and indicators of the forest certification process through the principles of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and through the GFA company of Hamburg, Germany.


Research article:

Turcios-Casco MA, Hernández GS, Mancía FE, Molinero CF, Muñoz J, López CM, Ordóñez-Garza N (2023) Unseen for 43 years! A new occurrence of Glaucomys volans (Linnaeus, 1758) (Rodentia, Sciuridae) in Honduras. Check List 19(1): 133-139. https://doi.org/10.15560/19.1.133

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