Rare owl to be returned to the wild


Bokakhat (Assam): A rare Oriental bay owl awaits its return to the wild at the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park, Assam. It was admitted to CWRC yesterday by Assam Forest Department officials. The owl will be released tonight near the site of its rescue in Bokakhat.

The bird was rescued by Phukan Das, a resident of Bokakhat. “I noticed children excited about something in my backyard. I went to check and found this owl. It gave me some scratches while I tried to handle it,” he said.

Das handed over the bird to the Divisional Forest Office. The Forest Department officials admitted the rescued owl to CWRC for treatment and rehabilitation.

Dr Rinku Gohain, IFAW-WTI consultant veterinarian, said, “Owls are nocturnal and roost in the trees during daytime. It was perhaps attacked by crows; it must have got stranded while escaping the attacks, as owls have poor visibility in daylight. We examined it and found that it was healthy. We plan to release it near its rescue site tonight.”

Oriental bay owl (Phodilus badius) has a large home range extending across south and south-east Asian countries. It inhabitates sub-tropical/tropical lowland moist forest and mangroves and feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects etc.

In India, it is found along the northeastern states and southern part of the Western Ghats. However the sightings along its home range in India, are extremely rare. The first authentic sighting of the bird in Kaziranga National Park was recorded in January 2003, when an individual was rescued by the Forest Department and admitted to CWRC. It was subsequently released back into the wild.