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Who Created The Squirrels Plague?
The farmers accuse them of eating their fruits, but the animals could accuse them of take them out their habitat.

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Wanted! Is it the guilty or the victim?
Photo by Alexander More/NCI

MARCAVELICA, Peru - The taperiba (Spondias dulcis Parkinson) is one of the most appreciated fruits  at Chira Valley and generally across Piura Region. Although there are not updated numbers highlighting its productive contribution, the fact is that its acid pulp is part of the local human diet raw, juices, and ice creams, candies as well.

Not only humans seem to appreciate it. The farmers tell  that Guayaquil Squirrels (Sciurus stramineus) also look for it, and look for it so much than they accuse the animals of decimating the production although they do not have sustaining numbers allowing to prove it.

Guayaquil's squirrels  are a common species in Piura Coast, the dry forest in special, that also has known to adapt into urban environments, particularily the few where  endemic trees survive as the carob (Prosopis pallida).

FACTORTIERRA.NET searched  any investigation that  explains the possible harmful conduct of the animal and did not find anything more relevant  than denounces, one of them launched by a  irrigators committee, beginning August 2014, that reported a similar case in Chulucanas District (Morropón), where the rodents had a fast with the local production of fruits and grains, what deserved them the 'plague' tag.

We also contacted specialists in Biology who said to ignore the phenomenom  or to know if somebody might be tracking it.

From this point, there is not anything rare about the behavior of a squirrel, a curious and astute species to get its food, as much as the existents inside National University of Piura in Castilla and University of Piura in Piura campuses, even ambush the refreshments of the students  for stealing them or eating the residues. Inclusive one student  of the second university has celebrated it by creating  its own Facebook account.

"Te squirrel is a mammal, so it is ontop food chain," Nature and Culture International's Biologist Paúl Viñas remembers to FACTORTIERRA.NET.

Usually, ontop food chains are the so-called predators, the species feeding from other species, and they have no others above  them those literally eat them. We, the vertebrates,  use to be ontop such those chains.

Human hand?
But that does not explain satisfactorily the voracity of the squirrels. The Nature has a very peculiar design which  allows that each species occupy its place inside that chain, what inclusive controls the proportion of the individuals, that can unbalance by fortuitous faccts like natural disasters, although the balance inside an ecosystem eventually  recuperates by itself.

There are other ffactors  generating that unbalance like the intervention of te human being. Good or bad intention, we use to  act in too small details  those could unwind big-scale consequences.

At least acting good will, there are documented cases worldwide about human interventions to control plagues by incorporating other species, those got to exterminate the plagues they had to attack, then turned another one when they started to overpopulate  an ecosystem they did not belong to.

We talked to the farmers who accuse  the squirrels of acting like a plague, and asked if they remembered some fact when certain human interventtion happened to get any benefit for their crops, and they said us not; but remembering quite more, there is actually one episode -two indeed- those could explain the attack to taperibas and other fruits.

Some squirrels those populated the carob forests at Valle de los Incas, a sector of San Lorenzo Valley in Tambogrande District (Piura), used to be captured  when they were just babies by fruit gatherers, who transported 50 km or 35 mi to Medium Chira Valley, where Marcavelica is located.

The problem seemed to begin when the squirrels started to reproduce. Some were released  open field, increasing the local population of squirrels.  But that increase might not unbalance the ecosystem, in the beginning, unless we let the little animals homeless.

In the last years, a deforestation process has been reported across Piura Coast, and one of the most affected species is the carob, that the squirrel uses as a shelter. If we remove it, the squirrel has to go somewhere to live and to eat as well.

It is necessary a scientific study  that confirms this theory or set down the sequence of events  those cause the disappointment of the farmers, and that discovers if they highly caused this situation and its dimension as well.

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