Status, Distribution and Conservation of Forest Owlet
Thought to be extinct and rediscovered after 113 years, forest owlet was reported from several sites in India. However, the total known population remains very small and fragmented. Its record in Gujarat led VNC to conduct an intensive survey of the species in the Dang region and other parts of south Gujarat region.
Thought to be extinct for over 100 years until its rediscovery in 1997, Forest owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) is one of the rarest and least-known of India’s endemic bird species. Today, the bird is Critically Endangered (IUCN 2014) and inferred as declining. It has a tiny (100 to 400 individuals) and severely fragmented population (Birdlife International 2014), known from fewer than 12 recent locations from central India (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra). Recent record from south Gujarat has raised some additional hope for the conservation of this species. So it is necessary to acquire the baseline information such as present population status, distribution, suitable forest owlet area and conservation needs of forest owlet across protected and non-protected areas in its possible distributional range in Gujarat. Specific objectives of the project are (1) Assessing status, distribution and threats of forest owlets in Gujarat, (2) Site occupancy and habitat use by Forest owlets in Gujarat, and (3) Capacity building of forest staff through participatory initiative. This project has facilitated in identifying priority areas for planning of future conservation measures and providing direction to sensibly allocate the limited conservation resources. Assessing threats would help to understand the factors which can negatively affect the forest owlet population and would also provide insights on which disruptive measures to be controlled to increase forest owlet persistence in this landscape.