Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti is an endangered bird endemic to India. Historically, it has been recorded from Satpura hill ranges (400−700 m asl);however, recent records of this species from the northern Western Ghats suggest that its range had been underestimated for over 100 years. Objectives of this research were to assess the population status of forest owlet in Dang district of Gujarat and to predict its distribution across India. To survey populations in Dang district, a combination of methods, including interview-based and judgment-based surveys as well as call play-back methods and visual scanning were used. Each site was thoroughly surveyed three times to determine the presence or absence of the species. In total, 51 forest owlets were observed across 30 new sites, indicating the second largest population of forest owlets in India known to date. The majority of the observations were recorded from non-protected areas. The habitat of Forest Owlets comprised mixed deciduous forest, often along streamsand agricultural fields (~150–550 m asl) in Dangs district, Gujarat. Maximum entropy modeling was applied to bioclimatic variables and occurrence data fromDang district as the primary source and occurrence data reported in previous studies as well as online data as the secondary sources. The distribution model suggested the endemic nature of the species and identified new areas which need to be thoroughly surveyed. These findings provide crucial information regarding forest owlet distribution in Dang. In conclusion, monitoring and efforts toward conserving this species are required, and the data obtained though this survey may guide future conservation management.
As a part of awareness and citizen science activity, we (I with another researcher and Rufford small grant grantee- Mr. Nikunj Jambu) initiated an even called “Dangs Bird Festival”, in collaboration with Gujarat Forest Department, North Dang division, Ahwa-Dang, Gujarat. We continued this event for three consecutive years (2016-2018), where more than 200 participants took part from across India and we documented avian diversity from in and around of Purna WLS. In 2017, one of the team observed the Forest Owlet during Dangs Bird Festival, without the call play-back method.
The activity has been recognized by many news media as follow
Online Media Coverage and peer-reviewed scientific publications:
1. Birds of Surat-Dangs: a consolidated checklist of 75 years (1944–2020) with special emphasis on noteworthy bird records and bird hotspots from northern Western Ghats of Gujarat, India
ResearcGate link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352766769_Birds_of_Surat-Dangs_a_consolidated_checklist_of_75_years_1944-2020_with_special_emphasis_on_noteworthy_bird_records_and_bird_hotspots_from_northern_Western_Ghats_of_Gujarat_India
Times of India: 297 bird species make Dang their home - http://toi.in/UShkua46/a31gj
Participated in Two-day workshop on 24-25 November 2020 on Forest Owlet Conservation Action Plan (FO-CAP) (2021-2031) organized by Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore, India Ref: SACON/CB/FOCAP/141.7-2020
Apart from the Forest Owlet status and distribution surveys, the project also yielded new distribution records of small mammals like “ Blanford’s Rat Madromys blanfordi” and “Madras Tree Shrew Anathana ellioti” from Gujarat state. These new records are published in peer reviewed journals- Zoo’s print Journal and Journal of Tropical Natural History, respectively. These small mammals might contribute in a diet of Forest Owlet.
Researchgate link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340297194_On_the_Occurrence_of_Madras_Tree_Shrew_Anathana_ellioti_Waterhouse_Scandentia_Tupaiidae_from_Gujarat_State_India?_sg=krF7I64efwGa03kEKreDSlLm1Hl7MdULZUNobkyO4ohWwOxIFHzwgCq5NTAXzaYR_nmnbSD4epfbpA9pXbYkI3UtrOGFYkjrKAC46bme.jyTFHmi3Hgprfn3nXqOyHc1MuxVa3aCujiOfKadRYJ4wCEVtj_UHJghczLmdsrOMrtxXuU6jxERWeTrZfLOWIQ
Researchgate link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323316147_Blanford's_Rat_New_distribution_records_of_Blanford's_Rat_Madromys_blanfordi_Thomas_1881_from_Gujarat_state_Western_India?_sg=vWMZpr0dMObSL4uubrPPPUnQEz0AjUan_uh6QEabhmJ-Oz7A7IZUy0OqvVl_w4TzRRCXiNfbMcnpDvdKUi1do37GXy8D6BD-JaTkMIHh.GwMBvQXOcCtmtkSAKqTNpFcKFdzx54P6uhBE1qQicvl87vouw6y1Yflh86ZKZ_EGm0EtO7jvF0Y6chZddZTO8w