Vanishing wizards of the evening

A spherical flat-faced head with a crimson nose and blazing eyes stared down from a tree hollow. Nandini Rajamani and her assistant gazed up at this darkish-colored creature illuminated by their headlamps within the Anamalais, Tamil Nadu. “Mayappoonai [magic cat],” murmured the assistant in Tamil. The ‘cat’ became once in point of fact a rodent.

Ignoring the two earthbound humans it seen day-to-day, the animal jumped out of the hollow. It stretched its legs and spread a parachute-adore flap of pores and skin, assuming the form of a dapper rectangular pan with a lengthy address. Rajamani, as consistently, felt wonder on the spectacle of such moonlit glides.

Artistic canvas

As it sped via the air on that quiet evening, the billowing membrane sounded adore the flapping of a canvas sheet. When the apartment cat-sized creature alighted with a loud ‘thunk’ on the trunk of a wild durian tree, it resumed its long-established appearance, that of the Indian huge flying squirrel. The voluminous sheath folded towards the physique on landing where the animal remained motionless for a moment, its mottled greys and browns turning into one with the bark.

The flying squirrel’s Tamil name would possibly per chance well per chance additionally honest either discuss with this skill to vanish or its form-transferring skills. Maybe it hints on the acrobatic animal’s lengthy-drawn calls that rend the quiet evening air, making villagers’ hair stand on conclude. The grunt is unlike the favorite keen, repetitive staccato sounds made by other squirrel species. “It’s a unsuitable between a enlighten and a croak,” says Rajamani. “Love a toddler’s enlighten. They’ll build calling for extra than half an hour.” The spooked americans imagine a gruesome creature of supernatural powers haunting the woodland. They’d be bowled over the speak belongs to a nondescript squirrel.

Desirous to gorge

The animal humped up the trunk, the gigantic folds of pores and skin alongside its sides slowing its growth. Rajamani watched with somewhat of luck as it approached a cage entice strapped to a division and seemed inner before skirting spherical and strolling on in direction of the clusters of flowers. It settled down to gorge, with its fluffy tail curled up towards its abet, looking out adore an favorite backyard-diversity squirrel.

Favorite meals

For Rajamani, it became once yet one other failed evening. She had been trying laborious to retract just a few to collar with radio transmitters. Every evening for seven months, with the aid of interns knowledgeable in mountain climbing, she hoisted 9 cage traps 15 metres up and strapped them in snarl.

Every became once baited with one of many squirrels’ licensed meals: peanut butter, jackfruit or coconut. Love the one she watched steer clear of the contraption, now now not a single flying squirrel succumbed to temptation. She even tried to construct a entice correct inaugurate air a hollow so the resident would haven’t any possibility nonetheless to toddle into it. But the canny rodent glided away as soon as it seen her on the pass of the tree. It became once almost as if ‘the magic cat’ had the skill to have a examine via her ruse.


An opportunity presented itself when she stumbled on one on the bottom.

Flying squirrels in overall have accidents, since gliding at evening would possibly per chance well per chance additionally honest also be now now not easy with out the profit of landing lights. Rajamani seen a carcass impaled on bamboo and others hanging from energy traces. So it wasn’t uncommon to gain one which had smash-landed.

She took off her jacket to throw over the dazed squirrel. But the researcher became once unsure of herself and requested her assistant to secure the deed. He became once factual as reluctant. As they stood debating, the animal sat up on its haunches. Disturbed of lacking the likelihood, Rajamani approached, maintaining the jacket inaugurate, a matador of flying squirrels. But the knee-high creature hissed and spat, maintaining its keen lengthy claws on the ready.

It will per chance probably well search for cute nibbling on fruits and flowers, nonetheless it absolutely turned feisty on the glimpse of the stalking researcher. The humans backed off, greatly bowled over by this aggressive behaviour, and it bounded away.

The villagers had been correct: The ‘magic cats’ would possibly per chance well per chance additionally honest also be gruesome indeed.

Janaki Lenin is now now not a conservationista nonetheless many creatures allotment her dwelling for causes she is yet to peek.

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