Fri, Oct 13, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Indonesian village gives barn owls their jobs back

NATURAL PREDATORS:The local government has supported Pujo Arto’s barn owl breeding program by passing a law that bans shooting or disturbing birds

Reuters, TLOGOWERU, Indonesia

The owls of Tlogoweru have their jobs back.

Six years ago, farmers in the small Indonesian village were fighting a losing battle against rats and other pests ravaging their crops.

They tried smoking out the pests, but it failed. Hunting them was also impractical.

The villagers also wanted to avoid using pesticides for fear of damaging their crops.

Pujo Arto had an idea.

Bring back a natural predator — the barn owl.

BREEDING PROGRAM

Since then, the farmer-turned-breeder has raised nearly 2,000 owls through his Natural Predator Program and released them into the wild to combat the pests.

“We fostered awareness within our community by building homes for these owls, while government officials helped in implementing laws,” Arto, 50, said.

Common barn owls, due to their size and diet, were most suited for the job, Arto said.

In the wild, a barn owl lays between three and 12 eggs, but not many nestlings survive.

Arto takes the eggs back to the facility to increase the survival rate, releasing the birds back into the wild when they are four months old.

NESTING BOXES

So far, Arto has set up 140 nesting boxes in the village for the owls to lay their eggs, the bird houses standing tall on posts amid the farmers’ fields of corn.

Deforested land used for agriculture reduces locations for nesting, so the boxes provide the birds with an incentive to stay and thrive.

The local government has supported Arto’s program by putting in place a law that bans shooting or disturbing birds in the area.

Thanks to Arto’s initiative, Tlogoweru village has now become a popular destination for people looking to learn about the importance of maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

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