Crocworld Conservation Centre successfully releases rehabilitated owl

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It was an exciting moment for the Crocworld Conservation Centre team when, on Wednesday evening, they were able to release a spotted eagle owl to its natural environment after it had recovered from suspected poisoning in January.

Crocworld’s Bird Curator, Ryne Ferguson, explained the owl was brought in by Umdoni Christian Academy after a young boy, Njabulo, found it lying on the ground. The young owl has subsequently been named ‘Njabulo’ in his honour.

“We suspected it had consumed something covered in pesticide so I took it to the vet for treatment and we managed to stabilise the owl and get it to CROW (Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife),” explained Ferguson.

“This week, we received the welcome news that the owl had completely recovered and was ready to be released back into the wild. Because spotted eagle owls are generally found in pairs, and we estimated this one to be about three years old, it’s likely that the mate was still residing in the area and waiting for it to return. They will wait, on average, about six months for the partner to return, and it hasn’t yet been breeding season so we’re optimistic the two will be reunited.”

Ferguson said spotted eagle owls are incredibly beneficial to the ecosystem, and are particularly welcomed in residential areas as a pair can catch up to 3000 rodents – and even more insects – a year.

“The biggest threat facing owls in urban areas, unfortunately, is rodenticides and pesticides,” continued Ferguson. “Residents are urged to use natural pest control measures rather than using poisons so that we can keep these magnificent creatures safe.”

Anyone interested in contributing further towards the conservation of owls can consider supporting the Owl Box Project by Freeme Wildlife Projects. These specially designed owl boxes can be placed in a garden to provide a stable environment to enhance breeding success among owls – nature’s greatest biological control for rodents. These are available for barn owls, wood owls and spotted eagle owls like Njabulo. Those who purchase owl boxes are also supporting ongoing owl research, rehabilitation and conservation. To find out more about the Owl Box Project, visit www.freemwildlife.org, email orders@freemewildlife.org or call 033 330 3036.

View the video of Njabulo’s release on the ‘Crocworld Conservation Centre’ Facebook page.

Crocworld Conservation Centre is a member of Species360, an international organisation which facilitates information collection from some 1 200 aquarium, zoo, university, research and governmental facilities worldwide across 99 countries on six continents. Species360 members curate the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), the world’s most comprehensive database of knowledge on more than 22 000 species. Through its Species360 membership, Crocworld forms part of the global fight against extinction using optimal animal husbandry standards and practices.

Visitors to Crocworld can meet the centre’s own resident eagle owl, Mojo, as well as many other interesting animals feathered, furred and scaled. For more on Crocworld Conservation Centre visit www.crocworld.co.za.