The diet of Indian Eagle Owl Bubo bengalensis and its agronomic significance

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S. Pande
N. Dahanukar


If the importance of wildlife in agricultural pest control through predation can be conveyed, it can play an important role in the conservation of wildlife. However, such a strategy needs to be backed with convincing data. We studied the habitat preference, diet and reproductive behavior of the Indian Eagle Owl (IEO) Bubo bengalensis in order to understand its role in agricultural pest control. The Owls preferred landscapes with a higher percentage of agriculture and fed on rodents, birds, reptiles, arachnids, insects and other prey species. Despite being a generalist feeder, its diet was dominated by agricultural pests, which contributed 88% of the total prey biomass. Out of the 13 rodent prey species, which comprised a major part of the diet, seven were identified as major agricultural pests and were 98% of the total rodent biomass in the diet of the IEO. The dependence of the IEO on rodent pests was further reflected by positive correlation between rodent biomass consumed and the breeding success of the owl. The IEO, therefore, plays a positive role in the biological control of crop pests. However, owls spent a longer duration of time in agricultural habitats, where they also had higher productivity. Thus IEO may be subjected to anthropogenic activities, human contact and interference. Since this owl is still hunted due to superstitious beliefs, scientific evidence elucidating the importance of the IEO in agricultural pest control can be used for its conservation by educating the farming community.

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Author Biographies

S. Pande

Satish Pande is a Fellow of Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He is an Interventional Vascular Radiologist and Assoc. Professor of Radiology at B.J. Medical College, Pune. He works in ecology and field ornithology and has made several video films on raptor ecology, marine ecosystem and conservation. He has published more than 40 papers and has authored several field guides and popular books on ornithology, nature education, orchids and other subjects for popularization of science and to promote conservation.

N. Dahanukar

Neelesh Dahanukar works in ecology and evolutionary biology with an emphasis on mathematical and statistical analysis.

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