GEKCO African Grass-Owl Project

GEKCO African Grass-Owl Project

The African Grass-Owl (Tyto capensis) is a species that is currently under threat due to a loss of habitat caused by increasing urbanisation. These secretive owls depend on a specific type of wetland habitat to live and breed as well as sufficient open grassland in which to hunt. Kyalami still offers sufficient open space and habitat to support a small population of these owls. However urbanisation is still increasing and as more land becomes degraded and fragmented the owls are placed under more pressure and will eventually be displaced which could have negative implications for the conservation status of the species.

African Grass-Owl in Kyalami. Photo credit: Tyrone Mckendry

African Grass-Owl in Kyalami. Photo credit: Tyrone Mckendry

The Greater Kyalami Conservancy (GEKCO) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust have teamed up to try and preserve these beautiful birds. Since the end of 2013 we have been conducting regular surveys to identify where the critical habitat is, how many owls there are and where they are breeding. During that time we have been astonished to find that these owls seem more resilient to urban changes than we first assumed. This gives us great hope that our efforts to save the species in this area will be successful.

In 2017 we ringed the first African Grass-Owl chicks in the area. The idea of ringing the chicks is to hopefully identify them at different sites when they have left the nest so that we can gain a better understanding into their dispersal patterns in an urban environment. It is too early to tell how successful this technique will be but we are hopeful since we managed to photograph and identify a few juveniles flying close to their nesting site.

Most of the nesting sites that we have identified in the area occur on private property which presents a problem for us. This means that at any given point the property owner can decide to develop the site which could negatively impact owls. Unfortunately we simply do not have the resources at this stage to purchase the property to protect the owls. All we can do is continue to monitor them and try protect their habitat.

Please help us to preserve this unique species by donating today. Simply click on the link below.

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