A Squirrel in Namdapha

If it was extinct, how did Wikipedia have a recent photo?

Strangely, there is this photo on the squirrel’s Wikipedia page, looking alive and well:

Sourcing the Wiki photo

The photographer has uploaded many photos of butterflies, which Namdapha National Park is known for. According to the metadata, he took the photo in 2013 and added it to Wikipedia in late 2017.

Sourcing the copyright photo

The Mukherjeee photos

Several sites had a collection of photos labeled ‘Namdapha Flying Squirrel’ but no other content. They look similar to the animal in the Wiki photo, but not like the copyrighted one.

The Soma Jha photos

This one is said to be taken by Soma Jha — it looks similar to the Mukherjee and Wiki photos (potentially red giant flying squirrel).

Cruft

Some of the photos were generated articles which had combined Wikipedia text with image results for “flying squirrel”. I did some Google reverse-image searches. The newspaper article which I’d read, and many other articles on Indian endangered animals, use a stock image of a North American flying squirrel.

2019 Update: Researchers are looking!

A team from IUCN and Global Wildlife Conservation is raising funds to catch a live Namdapha Flying Squirrel!

Possibly extinct

One last fun post — while looking for previous discussions about this on Twitter, I found this post by naturalist Vivek Menon:

Conclusions

  • People find flying squirrels in Namdapha but that doesn’t make them Namdapha flying squirrels.
  • Search Google Scholar for endangered and extinct animals.
    Not Google Images.

Nomadic web developer and mapmaker.