Killing Owls in South Africa: Fighting Superstition

Stinson has a heart shaped face. It is 30 cm tall and wears brown and white plumage. However, it is no ordinary barn owl: it is a bird with a mission.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

As an ambassador at the Johannesburg Zoo, Stenson is tasked with fighting the dangerous superstitions that surround his mates. A number of cultures around the world, including some in South Africa, associate owls with bad luck and even witchcraft. It is said that when an owl lands on the surface, one of the inhabitants will soon die. The same goes for people who are stared at by an owl or who hear their call. Owl in the garden? Quickly home, because birds love to eat newborns.

These and other legends surround owls in South Africa, reports animal keeper Tshepisho Mokgabudi. “It’s mostly nocturnal.” Stenson floats on her arm. It doesn’t seem like a threat at all. However, their notoriety has caused the owls to plight time and time again. Some South Africans kill animals in hopes of avoiding the predicted disaster.

Entire families are often wiped out as a result of cultural fears and misconceptions. For example, they are evil spirits.

Daniel Murray, co-founder of the Owl Rescue Center, on Owls

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

Twelve species of owl live in southern Africa. Two of these, the spotted owl and barn owl, are common in urban built environments,” says Danielle Murray. She is a co-founder of the Owl Rescue Center, which works to protect bird species near the capital, Pretoria. Getting close to people involves many risks.” Barn owls often They do not colonize factories, warehouses, churches or even homes. “During the breeding season, they are more likely to be stalked,” Murray says. “Often entire families are wiped out as a result of cultural fears and misconceptions. For example, they are evil spirits.”

The fear of owls in South Africa has been scientifically documented

“I grew up believing that owls that fly during the day are the bad guys. Some claim that if an owl is squawking outside your house, you should see a professional to find out what it is saying,” a Johannesburg resident told a local newspaper. The fear of owls in South Africa has been scientifically documented. In a survey of owl superstitions on the African continent, Finnish naturalist Heimo Mikkola found that about 61 percent see owls as “a bad omen.” One in three has a friend or relative who has killed an owl because of it.

Thieves are already useful, in the affluent suburbs of Cape Town as well as in the towns of Johannesburg. They hunt scorpions, spiders, and other home invaders. A family of barn owls manages to kill 2,500 to 3,000 rodents per year. The Johannesburg city administration has also realized its benefits and several barn owls have settled in the Alexandra slum about ten years ago. The project had two goals: on the one hand, the problem of mice in the corrugated iron hut was to be solved, and on the other hand, respect for the animals should be strengthened.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

The owl project ended in disaster

It ended in disaster. At least if you believe the media reports that the residents “beheaded” and “maimed” the birds. Some of the owls were taken to injured vets; Animal rights activists have appealed to the authorities not to resettle more birds for their protection. However, officials do not want to describe their project as a failure. If there have been attacks on owls, it is said that they were unfortunate isolated cases.

The myth that Owl Stinson stubbornly fights continues. Along with his keepers, he wanders around the Johannesburg Zoo for up to an hour a day. Visitors can interact with it. Prejudice and fears must be eliminated. “We also talk to school classes. It’s funny that their kids often believe in adults more than we do.”

Ecologist advocates a culture-sensitive approach

South African ecologist Matthew Zilstra studies owl folklore, but says, “I’m not convinced that the superstitions themselves should be suppressed,” he says. Stop the human destruction. Rather than replacing superstition with a Western, scientific view of the world, Zylstra advocates a culturally sensitive approach: eye-level conversation. “This includes questions that call for a different interpretation of religion, such as, ‘Is the owl responsible for your misfortune or just a warning of misfortune that may befall you?’ “

Download the new RND app for Android and iOS here for free

Leave a Comment