In 5 States: Looking for the Forest Owlet in Central India
The Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti is a small sized Owl (25 cm) and is endemic to India. The Forest Owlet was considered to be possibly extinct due to lack of authentic records from 1884 till 1997 when it was re-discovered by Dr. Pamela Rasmussen and Dr. Ben King of Smithsonian Institute. Following its re-discovery, a few surveys were carried out to determine is current range. BNHS team reported Forest Owlet from Khaknar Range in Burhanpur Division in Madhya Pradesh and from Chikalaam and Malur locations within Melghat Tiger Reserve. We carried out an extensive intensive survey in teak dominant forests of historical locations in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to confirm its occurrence and also find potential new sites. We were not able to locate the Forest Owlet from historical locations in Orissa and Chhattisgarh as the forests in these sites were replaced by agricultural fields. We could not locate the Forest Owlet from Gujarat also. In Madhya Pradesh, we could locate two new sites in Khandwa Division and 1 new site in Burhanpur Division. In Maharashtra, many new locations of Forest Owlet were reported within Melghat Tiger Reserve. Loss of habitat appears to be a major threat to conservation of Forest Owlet as in signs of wood cutting and forest fire appear to be present in most surveyed sites.
Supported by: Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi; Madhya Pradesh Biodiverstiy Board, Chhattisgarh Forest Department, and Oriental Bird Club, UK