Alex township owl day a hoot

2016-06-08 13:57
(Supplied, Alexandra Township Owl Day)

(Supplied, Alexandra Township Owl Day)

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Johannesburg - Paintings of owls adorned the fences of five schools in Alexandra this week, to highlight the importance of these rodent-killing birds of prey. 

The Township Owl Project’s Kefiloe Motaung said 750 pupils from the Carter, Iphutheng, and Zenzeleni primary schools, Marlboro Gardens Combined School, and Minerva Secondary School, painted pictures of owls on recycled wooden templates and put them up on Monday.

A banner, with the each school's name and the words "Alex Owl Day", was displayed on the schools’ perimeter fences. 

"The learners' owl artwork was judged by a local actress, Itumeleng Bokaba, and the winning school, Marlboro Gardens, was presented with a R5 000 cheque in order for them to start their own environmental club," Motaung said. 

"All of these schools have been involved in the program over the last 5 years and are keen, involved and 'Owl Friendly'."

The Star newspaper on Tuesday quoted Bokang Brown, a Grade 4 pupil at Carter Primary School, saying he liked owls because they saved their school uniforms, which rats gnawed holes into.

In 2014, owls were released in Alexandra to combat the rat infestation. 

Creating awareness

Jonathan Haw, the head of EcoSolutions, a private environmental planning company behind the initiative, told Reuters at the time that barn owls were particularly suited to urban conditions. As their name suggested, they had long been associated with human habitation.

This made them ideal for the control of pests, like rats, because where humans went, rats followed.

"Barn owls and rats are inexplicably linked in evolution together," Haw said.

The owls were released from "owl houses", nesting boxes erected a sites such as schools. This got children involved, creating awareness about pests and the role predators could play in controlling their numbers.

However, Owl Rescue director Brendon Murray told Sapa at the time that some residents were killing or mutilating them as they were afraid of them.

"They kill the birds, they decapitate them. They take their eyes out. Last week, we had a case where school kids caught an owl and cut its legs off with a pair of scissors."

Motaung told News24 this week that, because of the ongoing participation of the "owl friendly" schools pupils, they decided to set aside a day for creating owl awareness in the area.

Pictures supplied by Alexandra Township Owl Day.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  good news

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