Special Achievement Award to Dr. Prachi Mehta by the International Owl Centre
The Forest Owlet is an endangered owl species found in India. It is a rare species and is found only in India. It was discovered in 1872 in Orissa by a British officer named F.R. Blewitt, and seen a few more times in Chhattisgarh, and Nandurbar in Maharashtra in the 19th Century. It was not seen after the year 1884, so many scientists considered it to be extinct. But it was rediscovered by the American Scientist Dr. Pamela Rasmussen in Nandurbar District in 1997, after a gap of 113 years. The Forest Owlet is a small owl species and is active during the day, unlike most other owls.
Dr. Prachi Mehta, Director (Research), of Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, Pune, has been studying the ecology of the Forest Owlet since 2005. Under her lead, WRCS has been carrying out research on the Forest Owlet at Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh, and Melghat, Nandurbar and Tansa in Maharashtra. From 2017 WRCS has also conducted studies on other species of owls. During her research on owls, Dr. Prachi Mehta used several research techniques that were used for the first time in India to study owls. WRCS's research on owls has demonstrated the use of the best scientific methods
such as colour banding, camera trap monitoring of nests, and radio telemetry, to generate reliable and robust data on the forest owlet and other owls.
Along with ecological research, WRCS is also carrying out conservation work with local communities, to protect the owls and their habitat, through awareness and livelihood programs, and capacity building programs for the frontline staff of the Forest Department. Dr. Prachi Mehta has been invited to deliver talks on WRCS’s research on owls on various academic and popular platforms.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to owl research, the International Owl Center (IOC), based in Houston (Minnesota) USA, has conferred the Special Achievements Award to the International Owl Hall of Fame, on Dr. Prachi Mehta. The award was decided by a panel of five owl scientists from various countries. The award will be given to Dr. Prachi Mehta in person at the Owl Festival organised by the International Owl Center at Houston on 30 April 2022.
Dr. Prachi Mehta profusely thanks International Owl Center for bestowing this honour on her. She gratefully acknowledges the funding agencies who have supported her research on owls including Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation (RRCF), Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board, Maharashtra Forest Department, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Mohamed Bin Zayed (MBZ) Foundation. She thanks the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the Maharashtra Forest Department for their support for her work.