From 2017 to 2021, we have been studying the ecology of the endangered Forest Owlet and seven other species of owl species co-existing in Chourakund -Harisal Range of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. The overall aim of our project was to understand the ecological co-variates of habitat use and breeding success of the eight owl species in the project area. The Final Report of Phase I of our project was submitted to Mr. Sunil Limaye, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Maharashtra State at Nagpur office. We also provided an overview of the findings through a detailed presentation. In Melghat we submitted the report to the Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director and Deputy Conservator of Forests of Sipna and Gugamal divisions.
We organised a special presentation for the Frontline staff of Melghat Tiger Reserve at Semadoh Tourism Complex. In spite of a very schedule of fire season, and line transect exercise, several staff participated in the workshop.
Range Forest Officer Semadoh, Mr. Godse facilitated the entire program. 39 Field staff from three divisions, Sipna, Gugmal and Akot participated in the program. From WRCS, Mr. Jayant Kulkarni, Dr. Prachi Mehta, Mr. Shubham Giri, Mr. Ashok Bethekar and Mr. Ram Kasdekar were present for the workshop.
The program began after a delicious lunch at Semadoh. Mr. Godse introduced the topic to all the participants. After self-introduction round, the presentations were started. The first presentation was made by Mr. Shubham Giri, Research Biologist on the Owl Ecology Project. Mr. Shubham is a enthusiastic birder and has keen interest in bird ecology.
Mr. Shubham presented the discovery of the Forest Owlet, its rediscovery and its importance in Indian ornithology. He also informed the participants about methodology in detection of owls and their calls.
Mr. Jayant Kulkarni, Director WRCS and Principal Investigator of Owl Project presented the overall ecological research on the Forest Owlet by WRCS for last 15 years. Mr. Kulkarni explained the methods of research, and habitat selection by the Forest Owlet in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. He emphasized on the importance of protecting the habitat of the Forest Owlet.
Dr. Prachi Mehta, Principal Investigator of Owl Project, presented the findings of the research project in Melghat Tiger Reserve. She presented the methods and results of the work done from 2017 till 2021. Dr. Mehta explained the results of grid-based occupancy survey, nest assessment, habitat monitoring, color-banding and conservation actions.
The field staff participated with a lot of enthusiasm and shared their experiences on seeing owls in their area. The workshops with the field staff has always been very rewarding and inspiring.
We are grateful to Maharashtra Forest Department and Melghat Tiger Reserve for the collaboration on this project. Our long-term owl research project in Melghat Tiger Reserve has been supported by the Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation, Mumbai.