Three back-to-back sightings of endangered Forest Owlet took place in the Melghat Tiger Reserve during a camp held recently.
- It is a member of the typical owl family, Strigidae.
- Scientific Name: Athene blewitti
- It was first described in 1873. As it was not sighted after 1884, it was considered extinct for many years. In1997, it was rediscovered.
o It is endemic to the forests of central India.
o It was observed in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, and at a few locations in the Melghat Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra.
- Habitat: The natural ecosystems and habitats of these species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland woods, dense deciduous woodlands, open dry deciduous teak woods,and tropical and subtropical dry forests.
o It is small and stocky. It measures 20 to 25 cm in length and weighing 240 gram.
o It is a typical owlet with a rather unspotted crown, presence of full throat collar, thickly feathered legs, heavily banded wings, and a tail.
o The upperparts are dark grayish brown. The underparts are whitish with dark barring.
o The bill of the owlet is short and pale yellow in color.
o These birds are diurnal and have been observed to hunt during the day.
o They eat rodents, reptiles such as lizards and skinks, and insects.
- Conservation Status:
o IUCN Red List: Endangered
o CITES: Appendix I
Key Facts about Melghat Tiger Reserve:
o It is located in the Amaravati district of Maharashtra.
o It is located on the southern offshoot of the Satpura Hill Range in Central India, called Gavilgarh Hill.
- It was the first tiger reserve in Maharashtra.
- The name 'Melghat' means the confluence of various 'ghats' or valleys, as is typical of the landscape of this tiger reserve.
- Vegetation: The forest is tropical dry deciduous in nature, dominated by teak.
- Rivers: The reserve is a catchment area for five major rivers: the Khandu, Khapra, Sipna, Gadga, and Dolar, all of which are tributaries of the river Tapti.
- The Tapti River and the Gawilgadh ridge of the Satpura Range form the boundaries of the reserve.
- Flora: Some of the common species are teak, Lagerstroemia Parviflora, Terminalia Tomentosa, Ougeinia Oojeinensis, Emblica Officinalis, Bamboo, etc.
o Apart from tigers, the other prominent animals are Sloth Bear, Indian Gaur, Sambar deer, Leopard, Nilgais, dhole, hyena, jungle cat, langur, etc.
o It is considered a stronghold of the endangered forest owlet.
Q1: What is CITES?
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words, they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws.