Forest owlet sighted in M.P.

A Pune-based conservation society has reported that the forest owlet ( Athene blewitti ), a ‘critically endangered species’, has been sighted in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district.

According to the city-based Wildlife Research and Conservation Society (WRCS), a team carrying out extensive research in Khandwa, sighted a spotted owlet in the adjoining district of Betul during the course of their survey.

The owlet, endemic to central Indian forests was said to be extinct in the wild but was rediscovered in 1997.

It was most recently seen for the first time in the Western Ghats in October last year by naturalist Sunil Laad of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

“Similar searches in 2005 and 2014 had not yielded any results. We suspect that our survey carried out in winter may have been the reason for the successful sighting,” said Prachi Mehta, Executive Director (Research), WRCS.

While it has been seen mainly at the Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati district, the bird was also previously spotted in 2004 in Toranmal in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district.

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