Covid-19 Pandemic

Although lockdown has been partially lifted Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation (RRCF) would again ask everyone to “STAY SAFE at home” wherever they are in order to limit and prevent the spread of this lethal virus.

Most of you are working from home in these trying times and we would like to express our thanks to all of you for supporting the activities of the Foundation with the same fervour and dedication.

We are especially concerned for some of our grant recipients who are still in the field since they could not return to the safety of their homes because of the Government’s total travel ban. We urge you to limit your field work to the extent that you are allowed to by the local district administration.

RRCF’s office is shut but please be assured that we are continuing to operate as close to normal as possible. We would like to inform you that

  1. We will continue to fund our on-going projects and will do our best to disburse our grants in a timely manner. Banks are operating with limited staff so there could be delays in remitting funds to you.
  2. Please do let us know how you are managing your field team and whether you expect any issues with your normal reporting system. However, if it becomes impossible to continue your field work please inform us.
  3. Meanwhile, we will continue to promote research activities on raptors and their conservation initiatives.
  4. We will continue to review and process your new proposals but we may take longer to respond under the present circumstances. Please keep in mind that any start-up date you envision for your project will have to be under the Advisory notifications of the Government and the State administrations.

Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation abides by the Government’s directives on measures for containment of Covid-19.

Always wear a face mask and keep a safe distance between yourself and the next person.

Some of you may be able to get clearance from the concerning authorities to allow you to resume office and visit your field sites however, please note that you and your colleagues fully understand the risks involved, and are doing so of your own volition. You and your colleagues are not in any way pressurised by RRCF to resume your projects and that RRCF is not responsible in any way for job hazards encountered particularly related to COVID-19, nor will RRCF monitor work conditions related to COVID-19 situation.

Kindly keep checking our website for further updates should the situation change in the coming months.

Brutal killing of Peregrine Falcons and other Accipiters in Punjab

Mr. Vikram Jit Singh, Wildlife Correspondent reports the illegal killing of migratory raptors (Peregrine falcon) and resident raptors by pigeon fanciers in Punjab. This has been going on for a number of years and was first reported by him in 2018. These fanciers are so emboldened that they make videos of gory slaughter of raptors and put them up on social media forums such as TikTok. Here is his write-up in the Hindustan Times `Wildbuzz’ column of May 10, 2020 with some videos that have surfaced from Whatsapp groups and a screenshot of a pigeon fancier who put up a gory video of slaughtering a Shikra on TikTok.

Mails have been sent to the top forest officials of the Punjab Forest department as well as the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and hopefully, strict action will be taken swiftly against these men who brutally kill and maim Peregrine Falcons and other raptors. Prior to the arrival of the migratory race of Peregrine (Callidus sp.) a campaign will be held this winter to appeal to the local people to stop this heinous crime and meetings will also be set with the more sensitive pigeon fanciers.

Pressure on the State administration triggered an immediate response and raids were successfully carried out by the forest department. Those whose faces were visible in the videos were arrested and FIRs lodged against several others.


We will plan a suitable campaign along with like-minded organisations to educate the general public and set up meetings with the more sane pigeon fanciers well before the migratory Peregrine Falcons begin arriving in India in September/October 2020.

On 24th April 2020 a White-backed Vulture was found in a sugarcane field in the village of Kushinagar, which lies in the easternmost district of Uttar Pradesh. A large crowd gathered to see this critically endangered vulture which bore two patagial tags numbered C3 as well as a satellite transmitter. The Local forest authorities took possession of the bird which seemed to be exhausted. It was reported in the newspapers and further investigation revealed it was one the vultures tagged in Nepal in 2018-19. See:

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.