World owl conference: ‘Owls are important not just for biodiversity but also for how they affect our lives’
Owls are important not just for biodiversity but also for how they affect people and their lives. Owls have kept agricultural land rodent free and have kept the rodent population in control, said Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forests, Maharashtra.
Addressing the 6th World Owl Conference at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) on Friday, Kakodkar said, “There is more to bio-diversity than protecting tigers. Our research has become more tiger centric and people don’t think beyond this charismatic animal but we have species like Owls who have their own place in the biodiversity and this conference is a platform to reach out to people.”
He noted that Owl species are on the schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, giving them the highest level of protection.
“The forest owl was thought to be extinct but in the late ‘90s, it was found in the Toranmal forest in Dhule by enivronmentalists Dr Girish Jathar and Farah Ishtiaq who started a whole new research which was further taken ahead by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Later this Owl was also spotted in Melghat forests and also close to Mumbai in Tansa. The thing was we were not really looking at owls then but now owls are also an important part of studies worldwide. This conference is to increase the study and focus on making students exposed to the owl and its habitat. They will realise there are more species than the tiger which is glamorous to research and study,” he said.
SPPU vice chancellor Nitin Karmalkar, James Duncan, Director Discover Owls, Canada, Dr Satish Pande, Ela Foundation and researcher Yosef Reuven were among the prominent speakers at the conference.
Involve people in Owl surveys: Duncan
Research on the Owl and its habitat is the most important aspect of the four-day World Owl Conference that began in Pune today said scientist James Duncan.
Duncan, who is director of Discover Owls, a Manitoba-based organisation focusing on the conservation of owls through education and research said the world owl conference was being held for the first time in Asia. In addition to scientific papers and research on owls, he said, it was necessary to connect with people to promote the conservation of the birds. “For until people start having feelings for the bird only then can they conserve these birds and make people care for them,” he said.
He noted that while there were numerous studies on owls in Europe, not much had been heard of research in Asia. The Pune conference could throw light on that, he said.
Duncan said that involving people in Owl surveys brings amazing results with people from various places helping in gathering data, pictures and recording their sounds at night. He hoped that such a survey would be conducted in Pune.
Numerous references to owls in ancient Indian texts
Speaking on ‘Owls in Indian Culture’, Suruchi Pande, a researcher, said ancient texts need to be viewed in a different perspective as they are a treasure of knowledge and present insights into the flora and fauna of ancient times. “I have tried to identify bird references in Sanskrit, tallying them with modern ornithology and I have tried to study their existence since Vedic times,” she said.
She noted that superstitions have shrouded the cute nocturnal owls which are trapped, killed or hunted during Diwali. In Indian mythology, the owl is the vehicle of goddess Lakshmi and is a symbol of wisdom, knowledge and contemplative attitude, she said. Sanskrit provides an array of names for owls based on their habits, anatomy, body structure and calls. Ancient Indian texts have also categorised different species of owls such as the Katapru which lives in grass or holes and Hridi lochana- the Barn owl which has eyes on its heart-shaped facial disk, among others.
Gurugram and parts of Haryana are likely to witness light rain, cloudy weather, and thunderstorms on Monday. This is due to a cyclonic circulation that has developed over northeast Rajasthan, Punjab, and adjoining areas, said weather experts on Sunday. According to the India Meteorological Department, Chandigarh, parts of Haryana and Punjab will receive moderate rainfall, after which the weather will remain dry.
Work on a 45km long peripheral road along the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in south Delhi may begin by the end of next month as the Delhi government has given its approval to a plan of constructing a road, which will act both as a patrol passage and a 'loop' corridor for tourists, said officials in the know of the matter.
People of Delhi may be able to get up to ₹15,000 subsidy on e-cycles as the state government is going to release operational guidelines for subsidy payment next week, said officials in the know of the matter on Sunday. The subsidies will be given only to those, who are residents of Delhi. E-cycles can be largely categorised as passenger or cargo cycles. They are powered by chargeable batteries and have battery-assisted pedalling.
The ripples of the decreasing water levels at Yamuna river was felt at Wazirabad on Sunday as the water level here reached 668ft, 6.5ft lower than the average normal of 674.5ft for this time of the year, said officials from the Delhi Jal Board. The water treatment plants at Wazirabad were producing 922 MGD (million gallon per day) of water against the targeted peak summer production of 998 MGD.
Special officer Ashwani Kumar and commissioner Gyanesh Bharti on Sunday took charge with the national capital once again coming under a unified municipal corporation -- ten years after the civic body was divided into three separate corporations, breaking what then was one of the biggest civic bodies across the world. The Civic Centre in central Delhi, which housed the headquarters of the South and North MCDs, is the new home for the unified MCD.