Owls given refuge

2017-11-08 06:01
One of the nesting boxes erected by Droogfontein Solar just outside of Kimberley in an effort to help protect and boost the local owl population.Photo: Supplied

One of the nesting boxes erected by Droogfontein Solar just outside of Kimberley in an effort to help protect and boost the local owl population.Photo: Supplied

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Kimberley is home to a number of owl species, the most common being the spotted eagle owl, Verreaux’s eagle owl and the western barn owl. It is the barn owl that Droogfontein Solar Power is working to protect.

Droogfontein Solar is erecting nesting boxes just outside Kimberley in an effort to help protect and boost the local owl population.

The solar plant collaborated with birding and zoology conservation experts and has already reported to have has erected ten specially-built mobile owl boxes on the solar plant’s perimeter.

Acknowledging the fact that the power plant is not yet home to owls, the solar plant hopes that placing safe nesting boxes on its premises will lure the owls, who will use the opportunity to stay semi-permanently on the site.

“The size of the population and the duration of their stay will relate directly to the rodent populations, as large numbers of rodents will naturally draw owls to the area,” says Droogfontein Solar Power in a statement.

Experts of the University of Cape Town (UCT), the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the head of the Department of Zoology at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, are all applauded for having worked closely with the solar plant’s health and safety officer, Ziyaad Mangera.

The plant manager for Droogfontein, Mpho Makhetha, explained that Vonica Perold of UCT and Beryl Wilson of the McGregor Museum visited their site to assist in the identification of owl species and advised on the most suitable placement zones for the nesting boxes.

“The owl houses were constructed by Yonder, a non-governmental organisation established for adults with disabilities, in Kimberley. The residents offered the perfect carpentry skills needed to assist with the unique mobile owl houses. This is a first project of its kind for the photovoltaic solar industry,” Makhetha said.

The owl house stands have been inserted into rubber bins, secured by mortar to provide the required stability and yet still allow for the boxes to be relocated to alternative sites on the solar plant, should they not successfully attract owls.

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