We conducted the studies on the Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti to evaluate its ecological requirements from October 2001 to June 2004. A status survey was conducted in ten protected areas of Maharashtra from February to June 2004. During this survey 98 individuals of the Forest Owlet were observed in Maharashtra. Of these 79 were found in Melghat Tiger Reserve and 19 individuals were found in Toranmal Reserve Forest. Habitat studies show preference of the open type of Teak dominated forest by the Forest Owlet. Direct observations and pellet analysis reveal that the rodents, skink and agamid are the major prey items of the Forest Owlet. The Forest Owlets have prolonged breeding season from October to May. Encroachments, increasing use of pesticide and rodenticides, illicit woodcutting, grazing and superstitions among tribal are influencing the survival of the Forest Owlet. Community management, joint forest management and public awareness are the key factor in long term conservation of the species.
Keywords: Forest owlet, critically endangered, central India, Satpuda mountains, toranmal, taloda, melghat, habitat, teak dominated forest, diet, encroachments, pesticides, grazing, woodcutting, forest fires, misconceptions, community management, joint forest management, awareness, conservation strategy.