Image credits: Mike Prince

Image credits: Shagil Kannur

“They are are not hunted here I believe,” Mohammed explained. “Lots of people in this area have learned to respect nature. I think there is a revival of the squirrel population here. They are coming back.”

Image credits: Joseph Lazer

Further helping the comeback of these cute critters is the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Pune, where they are being bred in captivity and studied.  “We wanted to study them genetically,” zoo director Rajkumar Jadhav told The Hindu. “There are plenty of studies on the tiger, but so little is known about smaller animals like this one.” They are also studying Malabar behavior to understand how many times the animals mate, their gestation period and their lifespan.

Image credits: Ashutoshdudhatra

Image credits: N. A. Naseer

Image credits: Manoj Ashokkumar

There is also some good news from the wild; the giant squirrel’s population is steadily increasing in the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, an area specifically designed for the protection of the Malabar giant squirrel. A census found that their numbers had climbed 8% in the sanctuary between 2015 and 2016. So it looks like this beautiful and much-loved animal is now getting the respect and protection it deserves in India, and will hopefully be one day as abundant as it once was. Would you like to see one in the wild? Let us know in the comments below!

Here’s what people had to say about the sweet squirrels