Ornis Hungarica. vol.29(1). (2021) p.66-81.
A cross-sectional study on knowledge, attitude and practices related to owls in central Punjab, Pakistan
Owls are considered as dominant predators for control of rats and mice population in agricultural fields and presently their populations are continuously declining in Punjab, Pakistan. The present study was aimed to assess the knowledge and attitude of people of rural and urban areas about the declining trend of owls. During this survey, more than 1600 people were asked to collect information regarding the owl populations from six localities including Faisalabad, Sialkot, Jhang, Lahore and Bahawalnagar. Four parameters were the major part of the questionnaire: familiarity, misconceptions, awareness about owls and their acceptance as a biological controlling agent. The results revealed that about 95% of people were familiar with owls in the agro-ecosystem. Only 15.6% of people thought that owls should be eliminated; 23.0% were of the opinion that owl’s presence in a locality leads to ruination; 33.3% agreed that the owls presence was a sign of bad omen; 41.8% considered them as signs of foolishness; 47.0% believed that owl’s body parts were used for black magic purposes. In contrast, 50% of people acknowledged that owls are beneficial to humans; 60.3% knew that owls are the enemies of rodents, 67.7% agreed that they are suppressors of rats and mice and 63.8% agreed that artificial nest boxes can serve as their nests and roosts. It was encouraging to know that 74.8% showed their willingness to enhance the owl’s population on their farms, and 74.0% were willing to permit the installation of nest boxes in or near the villages. The study of attitudes of respondents towards owl will help to develop an effective conservation strategy and to boost owl’s population in croplands for biological control of rats and mice.