Get my head around owls: people perception and knowledge about owls of Andaman Islands

Main Article Content

Shanmugavel Sureshmarimuthu
Santhanakrishnan Babu
Nagaraj Rajeshkumar
Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara


Understanding people’s perceptions and knowledge about birds in an endemic bird area is a prerequisite for bird conservation. This is more so in the case of non-charismatic birds such as owls. In this context, we conducted a questionnaire survey about owls in the North Andaman Island between January 2016 and 2018. We interviewed 203 respondents from six market places in North Andaman tehsil, and collected data on their socio-economic status as well as their knowledge on owls. Although all the respondents were familiar with owls, only 9% of them identified all species of owls in the Andaman Islands. Around 98% of respondents were aware of owl diets, either partly or wholly. We found several superstitious beliefs revolving around owls. Two species, Otus sunia and Ninox obscura were associated with negative beliefs while Tyto deroepstorffi was associated with positive beliefs. Generalized linear model with the demographical predictors showed that positive attitudes towards owls is associated with age (older), education (literacy), revenue villages and temporary houses. We conclude that Tyto deroepstorffi had the highest positive values among islanders and hence, may be considered as a focal species to create awareness about owls and to protect other endemic owls of the Andaman Islands. Awareness programmes targeting younger, illiterate people, and land encroachers may help in conservation of cryptic owl species of Andaman.

Article Details


Funding data


Ahmed, A. (2010). Imperilled custodians of the night: a study of the illegal trade, trapping, and utilization of Owls in India. TRAFFIC India/WWF-India.

Almeida, A., C. Vasconcelos & O. Strecht–Ribeiro (2014). Attitudes towards animals: A study of Portuguese children. Anthrozoös 27: 173–190.

Alves, R.R., V.N. Silva, D.M. Trovão, J.V. Oliveira, J.S. Mourão, T.L. Dias, Â.G. Alves, R.F. Lucena, R.R. Barboza, P.F. Montenegro, W.L. Vieira & M.S. Souto (2014). Students’ attitudes toward and knowledge about snakes in the semiarid region of Northeastern Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 10(1): 1–8.

Anonymous (2011). District Statistical Hand Book. Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, Port Blair.

Babu, S., S. Sureshmarimuthu & H.N. Kumara (2019). Ecological determinants of species richness and abundance of endemic and threatened owls in the Andaman Islands, India. Ardeola 66(1): 89–100.

Berlin, B. (1992). Ethnobiological Classification: Principles of Categorization of Plants and Animals in Traditional Societies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 354pp.

BirdLife International (2021). Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Andaman Islands. Downloaded from on 27.vii.2021.

Bjerke, T., T. Ostdahl & J. Kleiven (2003). Attitudes and activities related to urban wildlife: Pet owners and nonowners. Anthrozoös 16: 252–262.

Census (2011). Primary Census Abstracts, Registrar General of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Available at: Accessed on 14.vii.2021.

Ceríaco, L.M.P. (2012). Human attitudes towards herpetofauna: The influence of folklore and negative values on the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Portugal. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 8: 8–15.

Czech, B. & P.R. Krausman (2001). The Endangered Species Act: History, Conservation Biology, and Public Policy. Johns Hopkins University Press, 212pp.

Moral, F.D. & F.L. Camacaro (2011). Records of occurrence of the Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus Cuvier, 1825) in its northeastern and southern distribution limits. Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Nueya Serie 13(1): 7–19.

Fiallo, E.A. & S.K. Jacobson (1995). Local communities and protected areas: attitudes of rural residents towards conservation and Machalilla National Park, Ecuador. Environmental Conservation 22: 241–249.

Fleck, D.W, R.S. Voss & N.B. Simmons (2002). Underdifferentiated taxa and sublexical categorization: an example from Matses classification of bats. Journal of Ethnobiology 22: 61–102.

Heinen, J.T. (1993). Park-people relations in Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: a socio-economic analysis. Environmental Conservation 15: 25–34.

Infield, M. (1988). Attitudes of a rural community towards conservation and a local conservation area in Natal, South Africa. Biological Conservation 45: 21–46.

Johannes, R.E. (1993). Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and management with environmental impact assessment, pp. 33–39. In: Inglis, J.T. (ed.). Traditional ecological knowledge: concepts and cases. Ottawa: International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and International Development Research Centre, 39 pp.

Kaiser, F.G., S. Wolfing & U. Fuhrer (1999). Environmental attitude and ecological behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology 19(1): 1­­­–19.

Kellert, S.R. & M.O. Westervelt (1984). Children’s attitudes, knowledge and behaviors towards animals. Children’s Environments Quarterly 1: 8–11.

Lindemann-Matthies, P. (2005). “Loveable” mammals and “lifeless” plants: How children’s interest in common local organisms can be enhanced through observation of nature. International Journal of Science Education 27: 655–677.

Padhy, S. (2016). Over-religious Activity, A Threat to Biodiversity: A Case Study (2): Save the Owl (Aves: Strigidae). Journal of Biodiversity 7(2): 104–109.

Prasad, P.R.C., K.S. Rajan, C.B. S. Dutt & P.S. Roy (2010). A conceptual framework to analyse the land-use/land-cover changes and its impact on phytodiversity: a case study of North Andaman Islands, India. Biodiversity and Conservation 19(11): 3073–3087.

Praveen J., R. Jayapal & A. Pittie (2021). Checklist of the birds of India (v5.0). Website: [Date of publication: 29 March, 2021].

R Core Team (2021). R: a language and environment for statistical computing, version 3.6.0. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Accessed July 2021.

Røskaft, E., T. Bjerke, B.P. Kaltenborn, J.D.C. Linnell & R. Andersen (2003). Patterns of self-reported fear towards large carnivores among the Norwegian public. Evolution and Human Behavior 24: 184–198.

Santhanakrishnan, R., A.M.S. Ali & U. Anbarasan (2012). Knowledge about Owls among general public in Madurai District, Tamil Nadu. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 42(3): 1–35.

Srivastava, A.L. (1987). Ulūka-Vāhinī Lakṣmī. East and West 37(1/4): 455–459.

Sundaramoorthy, T. (2010). Bird diversity of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Eco News 16(1): 3–8.

Vidyarthi, L.P. (1971). Cultural diversities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: a preliminary report. Indian Anthropologist 1(1): 80–92.

Most read articles by the same author(s)