Dear Colleagues & Friends, 

Our world has turned topsy-turvy in a matter of few months. We now live under the threat of another corona virus called Covid-19 which was first detected in Wuhan, China. From there it has spread very rapidly in all the continents and even reached our shores, our hinterland. 

Medical equipment such as masks, gloves and ventilators are in short supply and today even medical staff treating patients have succumbed to this deadly virus. We have to practice SOCIAL DISTANCING and STAY INDOORS for the next 3 weeks and more. 

Some of you are in your homes in cities and some of you are in the field. For those in the field we hope you are able to reach your homes safely and be with your families in this trying period. We strongly advocate all of you to work from home. 

A lot of false news and use of unproven home remedies and drugs are being circulated and we trust you will not be swayed by either. 

Let us hunker down together and STAY SAFE till this infectious storm passes. Our solace and joy is hearing the clear warble and songs of birds!

Owl pellet manual titled “ALL ABOUT OWL DIET” published by RRCF was released on 30th November at the 6th World Owl Conference 2019 in Pune.

(L to R) Kiran Srivastava, COO, RRCF, with the authors, Dr. Prachi Mehta, Jayant Kulkarni & Dr. Syamkant Talmale.

‘Serzhik’ and ‘Usina’ – the fate of two satellite-tagged Ospreys in their wintering grounds in India

This year a pair of adult Ospreys were satellite tagged in the Sayano-Shushensky State Nature Reserve, Russia. The male was named – Serzhik and the female – Usina.  Both birds migrated to India to avoid the harsh winter of their homeland.

The goal of satellite tagging these ospreys was to discover the reason for their precipitous decline in the Altai-Sayan region – one of the most inviolate parts of Russia. At the 2nd International Scientific and Practical Conference “Eagles of the Palearctic: Study and Conservation”, researchers suspected that the problem could be found during the winter migrations of this species, and the conditions along their migration routes. Read on….

We congratulate Dr. Nishant Kumar on successfully defending his PhD thesis titled “Ecology and Ethno-ornithology of Black Kites Milvus migrans in Delhi, India” at Oxford University, UK.

Left to right, Prof. Ian Newton (external examiner), Prof. Andrew G. Gosler (supervisor), Nishant Kumar, Heather Green (graduate administrator) and Prof. David MacDonald (internal examiner of Dphil). 

Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation Scholarship

Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation (RRCF), Mumbai signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (Sacon), Coimbatore on 19th July 2018 for sponsorship of one meritorious candidate for MSc. Course at the Sacon campus. The comprehensive syllabus over a 2-year period covers training and education in ornithology and conservation biology that includes all aspects of wildlife biology, ecology and conservation science and policy.

Mr. Sangeeth Sailas Santhosh has been selected to receive the Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation’s Scholarship. We wish him the very best!

Research Opportunities

Demography and Population Dynamics – Population estimates based on correct identification (aging and sexing from plumage can be a difficult task) and census/survey techniques for professional surveys or habitat-focused surveys; raptor diversity, distribution and abundance; studying raptor niches (e.g., fishing eagles in riverine habitats, owls in thickly wooded patches), survival and longevity, etc.

Breeding Dynamics – Our scientific knowledge is limited even for common raptor species and hardly any information is documented for raptors, such as those inhabiting dense forests and mangroves. Detailed studies are required on courtship, mating, nest size, clutch size, incubation, brooding, daily food requirements, parental role, hatchling success, brood sizes, survival rates, recording number of breeding pairs, etc.

Migration Studies – Our knowledge of migrating raptor species is very limited which means we don’t know how many migrate, when do they migrate, are there any specific routes: high mountain passes, through valleys, routes along the shore lines? As they scatter further into India, where do they feed and forage, do they remain in the same area or move again. At some point of time in the future and gain more information on their migration patterns we will have observation stations where regular raptor counts can be done during the migratory season. This provides an ideal opportunity where public participation will be welcome.

Study flight paths, speed, altitude, mode of flight, mortality, effects of hunting, trapping on the routes, resting or stopover points, roost sites, and final wintering sites; interaction between resident and migratory species. Identify and establish main migration routes: vulnerable stretches to be targeted for protection, inventory of stop-over resting points, roost sites, and final wintering refuges and sites; determine hunting and trapping on the routes.

Other aspects such as territory size, territory permanence, habitat quality and determining minimum areas required in biotopes, such as forest, grassland, wetland to support raptors; energetics; assessing food requirements; facets of predation. Avian genetics and identifying environment toxins.

Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra: Ramit Singal and his birder friends heard the low hoots of the Forest Owlet and excitedly went in search of it. After tracking the call for about 10 minutes they got closer but the Owlet flew away a couple of hundred meters ahead. Another 10 minutes of careful searching yielded the Forest Owlet calling persistently from atop a Terminalia tree. They spent more than 15 minutes in the company of this charismatic species and even watched it being mobbed for a while by a Red-vented Bulbul, Common Woodshrike and Chestnut-shouldered Petronia. The Owlet was unperturbed and when the troublesome birds left, it closed its eyes and kept silent. Sound recording by Ramit Singal.

Read about the Forest Owlet study being executed by Dr. Prachi Mehta of WRCS, Pune under our PROJECTS

A Forest Owlet calls….

SAVING VULTURES – Health Ministry Notice *

The Government of India issued a gazette notice effectively restricting usage of Diclofenac production for human formulations in a single 3ml dose only. Diclofenac is an inexpensive non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and is effective for treating pain and inflammation in cattle and humans but is toxic for vultures. Hopefully, strict control leads to a complete ban on this NSAID being used for treating cattle.

TRUST Certificate bearing No 46479 dated 26.03.2014 to Raptor Research & Conservation Foundation.
Registered office (R.O.): Raptor Research & Conservation Foundation, Plant 11, Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai – 400079.