Prashant Rupera | TNN | Jan 7, 2017, 04.00 AM IST
The farmlands of Dang are home to as many as 82 forest owlets, the critically endangered species whose numbers are estimated to be just 200 to 400 individuals globally. What's even more encouraging is the numbers of this bird, which is endemic to central Indian forests, may increase in Gujarat.
In September 2014, Jenis Patel and his team of volunteers from Voluntary Nature Conservancy (formerly known as Vidyanagar Nature Club) had first recorded the presence of forest owlet in Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, breaking the long-standing belief that the bird has vanished from the dense forest of Gujarat. For nearly 113 years, the forest owlet were considered to be extinct until researchers rediscovered it in 1997 in Toranmal Reserve Forest from Maharashtra. Later their presence was considered to be restricted to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
"Melghat sanctuary of Maharashtra is considered to be the favourite habitat of forest owlet where 100 have been recorded. But it is possible that the sightings in Gujarat may outnumber those in Melghat because we have not just recorded presence of 82 individuals just in Dang but also their presence in adjoining Navsari and Valsad districts," said Jenis, co-ordinator of the project.