Caring for owls is a hoot

Hazel Khoza and Jonathan Haw, both of EcoSolutions, stand in front of owl artwork which had been down by township schoolchildren. Photo: Robyn Kirk

 

At the beginning of March, Jonathan Haw of EcoSolutions received a Special Achievement Award from the Owl Hall of Fame during the 16th annual International Festival of Owls while in the United States of America for his dedication to the creatures. Now back home, Haw is excited to continue his work.

“This trip overseas to accept the award in Houston was great,” Haw told the Fourways Review from the EcoSolutions offices in Strydom Park. “It’s wonderful to be acknowledged, and it’s almost like I got to take the children from our Township Owl Box Projects over with me, as I brought their art along to show the other delegates.”

Since arriving back in South Africa, Haw has been more inspired than ever to help the environment. EcoSolution’s work in township schools is continuing to create owl-friendly and aware children who care about the environment.

“We’ve been studying the results of questionnaires given out to children about 12 months after they had been involved in the project, to see how attitudes have changed, and if these attitudes can stay over a long period of time.

“What we’ve found is that we’re not just changing attitudes around owls, but around the environment as a whole. These kids are also taking ideas home with them, so their whole family is learning about nature [from the children].”

Haw also has some advice for the general public on how to care for owls, which he says are more abundant in urban areas than in townships or rural areas. Here is what the public should know:

  • “There is no such thing as owl-friendly poison,” Haw warns. “You should not be fooled by promises, poison will always harm these animals.” He encourages people to find environmentally friendly means of rodent control.
  • Generally owls, even young ones who appear to be alone or those found on the ground, do not need human intervention. The exception is if there is an obvious injury. “But even then, you should only call organisations that are allowed legally and able to help,” Haw said.
  • In Haw’s opinion, there are only three organisations in Johannesburg that can rehabilitate owls effectively: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital and EcoSolutions.
  • Finally, if you do send an owl to one of these centres, Haw explained that the animal will need to be returned to the exact same area where it was found or it probably will not survive. “To give a human example: if you were sick and had to go to the hospital when it was time to leave would you rather be dropped off at home, or in the middle of a city you don’t know and have never seen before? You have a responsibility to see that the animal is returned to the right place.”

Details: www.ecosolutions.co.za

  AUTHOR
Robyn Kirk
Journalist

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