IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th February, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://ebird.org/species/forowl1

Context: The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA) jointly spot three Forest Owlets in the Melghat Tiger Reserve, providing renewed hope for the survival of this critically endangered species rediscovered in 1997.

Melghat Tiger Reserve

●The Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) is a protected area in Maharashtra.

●It was created by merging the Turia Sanctuary (established in 1973) and the Melghat Sanctuary (established in 1985).

●Numerous rivers like Tapti, Purna, and Narmada flow through the reserve.

●The predominant vegetation types include dry deciduous forests, bamboo thickets, and grasslands.

●The reserve plays a crucial role in conserving the Bengal tiger population and other species include leopards, sloth bears, dholes, gaur, sambar, and a variety of birds like hornbills, owls, and eagles.

●The Satpura mountain range forms the eastern boundary of MTR.  Chikhaldara, the highest point within the reserve.

●The Melghat region is home to several indigenous tribal communities, including Korku, Bharia, and Gond.

About Forest Owlet

  • The forest owlet (Athene blewitti), also known as Blewitt's owlet, is an endangered bird species native to the forests of central India.
  • The forest owlet was once thought to be extinct after 1884 but was rediscovered in 1997.


  • Small and stocky, measuring around 23 cm in length.
  • Grey-brown upperparts with faint spots, especially on the crown.
  • Prominent white eyebrows that give them a stern expression.
  • Barred wings and tail with white trailing edges.
  • White underparts with some brown barring on the sides.
  • Relatively large heads and beak compared to their body size.

Habitat and Distribution

  • Found in lowland deciduous forests of central India, primarily in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh.
  • Prefer areas with dense undergrowth and teak trees.
  • Their habitat is threatened by deforestation.


  • Unlike most owls, they are primarily diurnal, and active during the day.
  • They are solitary birds, except during breeding season when they form pairs.
  • They are agile fliers and hunt insects, lizards, small birds, and rodents in the forest understory.
  • Their vocalizations include a distinctive "huhuhuhu" call and various yapping and screeching sounds.

Conservation Status

  • Classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List with an estimated population of less than 1,000 mature individuals.
  • The main threats include habitat loss due to deforestation, fragmentation, and degradation.
  • Conservation efforts are focused on protecting remaining forest patches, establishing protected areas, and raising awareness about the species.


Q. Consider the following statements in the context of the Melghat Tiger Reserve:

1. It was established by merging two pre-existing sanctuaries.

2. It is home to the highest population of tigers in India.

3. The Satpura mountain range forms its eastern boundary.

4. The Tapti, Purna, and Narmada rivers flow through the reserve.

How many of the above statements are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: C


The incorrect statement regarding the Melghat Tiger Reserve is Statement 2: It is home to the highest population of tigers in India.

While the Melghat Tiger Reserve is an important wildlife habitat, it is not home to the highest population of tigers in India. The reserve is known for its rich biodiversity and is a crucial tiger conservation area, but other reserves, such as the Sundarbans or Nagarhole National Park, are known for having larger tiger populations. The actual highest population of tigers in India can vary over time and is often subject to ongoing studies and assessments.