Desertification is a problem in Morocco, and in the past two years, there has been a terrible drought in my area, and likely throughout the surrounding region. However, this past year the argan nuts upon which the Barbary Ground Squirrels depend were very few–there were only a few on the odd tree, whereas the year before there was a bountiful crop. Not having been here long, I don’t know how rare that is. However, in those two years there was only a bit of rain between December and March. So the squirrels had to get through eight months per year without water. During the baking summer months, all the vegetation in the forest dies back to the roots, so there is no vegetation to nibble on or to attract dew, either.
I rescued a squirrel in June this past year who was seriously dehydrated and emaciated and was dying. And since then, I have not seen a squirrel anywhere in the forest, though now, the rains have returned, and another crop of argan nuts is ripening. I can tell that there are no squirrels because there is no evidence of the nuts being eaten and my dogs, horrible squirrel chasers, have not located any. Formerly there were areas with trees which seemed to function as squirrel apartment houses, and there was a squirrel in most of the older trees in the forest.
I don’t see any way to avoid the conclusion that all the squirrels in the forest here, and possibly in a much wider area have died. Is there anyone who has seen them elsewhere?
Thanks to anyone who can shed light on this subject. I am especially concerned because these squirrels are found only in a small range in which desertification is a problem.
With good wishes,
Ila France Porcher