India signed the Raptors MoU on Monday 7 March 2016, in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  India joins the increasing international coalition to conserve migratory raptors.

Full details are on the Raptors MoU website: http://www.cms.int/raptors/en/news/india-signs-international-agreement-conserve-migratory-birds-prey.

The Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU is looking for a consultant Coordinator to oversee the implementation of theSaker Falcon Global Action Plan (SakerGAP). Full job description and qualification criteria are on the UN Careers Portalhttps://careers.un.org/lbw/jobdetail.aspx?id=56164 where also applications should be submitted by 30 March 2016.

If you have questions regarding the above items, you may contact Nick P. Williams, Programme Officer – Birds of Prey (Raptors), Coordinating Unit of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, tel: + 971 2 6934 624, email: nick.williams@cms.int.”

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….

Owl Awareness Workshops with the Forest Department

Following Dr. Prachi Mehta’s first workshop “School of Owls” conducted for Forest Department staff her project zone in Khandwa Forest Division in Madhya another workshop was held in December 2015 with an even bigger participation: “Protection of Nest Sites of Forest Owlet and Other Owls in Managed Forests in Khandwa Circle: A Report on Workshop with Forest Officers and Frontline Staff at Awaliya – December 2015” by WRCS, Pune (Dr. Prachi Mehta & Mr. Jayant Kulkarni).

The information provided to the workshop attendees covered not just specifics of Forest Owlet conservation but a great background on owl ecology, forest ecology as well as legal and cultural dimensions of wildlife conservation in India. Their topics covered the important ecological role that birds play in the forest ecosystem even dispelling lore that owls are “foolish” (and as we all know owl in Hindi is “Ullu” and the word “ullu” means “foolish”) which is a belief still held in some rural communities, along with the idea that owls are harbingers of ill health and death and are also used in black magic. Many other aspects of owl threats and conservation were also covered in the wide span of topics.

The PI’s also provided general guidelines for protection of owl sites in forest concessions. The workshop included a field outing to teach the forest department personnel how to identify owl habitats, locating owls roost sites and nest trees. Nothing replaces field experience, and they did a great job teaching the attendees field signs.

The workshop has now laid the onus in the hands of the forest conservators, who may in turn next need to address economic considerations to amend their forestry operations and policies, but now they have the ecological material and the cultural foundation to push such conservation measures.

We appreciate such initiatives not only as a one-time activity but doing it in series and making the true guardians of our wildlife part of the owl conservation project.

We would also like to convey our thanks to Dr. Pankaj Srivastava, CCF Khandwa, his colleagues and forest staff for attending this workshop and making it a great success!

Read the full Workshop Report here.

According to Birdlife international the STEPPE EAGLE has undergone extremely rapid population declines within its European range. The majority of its range lies outside Europe where it was not thought to be declining but recent information suggests that the population outside Europe may be exposed to greater threats than was previously thought and has also undergone very rapid recent declines across much of the range. It is therefore classified as Endangered.

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.

Watson Raptor Science Prize for 2015

Research Opportunities

Determining Raptor Populations – Identification, census techniques, survival & mortality rates, food habits, prey base studies, niche relationships, migratory species, sexual dimorphism, 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 such as high mountain passes, routes along the shore lines? As they scatter further into India, where and which river valleys they use? At some point of time in the future we will have observation stations where extensive raptor counts can be done during the migratory season. This provides an ideal opportunity where public participation will be welcome.

Also study other aspects, such as 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.

(i) Through satellite tracking establishing the main migration routes and their inter-linking flyways. (ii) Vulnerable stretches to be targeted for protection. (iii) Information on origin, flight direction, actual flight path, altitude, speed, mode of flight, behaviour, destination and mortality rates would help protect migration routes. (iv) Inventory of stop-over resting points, roost sites, and final wintering refuges and sites (v) effects of hunting and trapping on the routes (vi) determining minimum area necessary for natural functioning of each biotope (whether grassland, wetland or forest) in supporting migrating raptors.

Breeding Dynamics – Again very little is known about our more common raptor species leave alone the elusive species and those that live in dense forests. No studies have been done on description on courtship, mating, nest size, clutch size, incubation, brooding, feeding, hatchling success, interaction between resident and migratory species, as also number of breeding pairs.

Hans Peeters

Hans Peeters is a wildlife biologist and artist rolled in one. His passion has taken him to several countries to see its magnificent raptors.

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Imperial Eagle Recovery

Recently one Imperial Eagle was recovered from Sardarshahr, Rajasthan with Russian ring Moskva AB 605.

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Migration pathways

Migration pathways of Peregrine Falcons fitted with satellite transmitters in the three regions shown in the map.

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TRUST Certificate bearing No 46479 dated 26.03.2014 to Raptor Research & Conservation Foundation.