A rare and endangered mottled wood owl (Strix ocellata) has been sighted in Prayagraj.
A wildlife photographer and cancer surgeon, Dr Arpit Bansal, has managed to click a photograph of the rare species of owl.
Found in the forests of central India, mottled wood owls have been listed as 'threatened species' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2016.
Dr Bansal has also clicked spotted owlet, jungle owlet, barn owl and Indian scops owl, all of which are facing threat of extinction.
Dr Bansal said that out of the 1,349 species of birds found in India, he has already photographed 887.
Altogether 36 species of owls are found in India and the doctor has photographed 32 of them.
"Mottled wood owl is a new species photographed by me for the first time in the city as per ebird.org. It was photographed near Harishchandra Research Institute (HRI) campus in Jhunsi area. With this, I have clicked a total of five endangered species in the city limits," said Dr Bansal.
He said, "This is a rare finding and we need to make people aware so that they can help in protecting the bird."
As is a common practice, owls are illegally caught and sacrificed in the name of black magic in the country during Diwali.
According to Indian folklore, owls represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy. During the eighteenth century the zoological aspects of owls were detailed through close observation, reducing the mystery surrounding these birds.
District forest officer (DFO) Prayagraj, Ramesh Chandra, said that over 250 bird species have been spotted in Prayagraj over the years by bird lovers and conservationists.
"We are aware of the presence of some species of owls like jungle owlet, spotted owlet, collared scops owl, short-eared owl and rock eagle owl in and around the city. Spotting endangered mottled wood owl is good news and all efforts would be made to protect them from harm," he said.
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