A Jordanian physician has saved an injured owl that crossed the border from Israel.
A surgeon from the Jordanian town of Irbid went shopping a few weeks ago in the local market and was amazed to find an injured barn owl offered for sale. The physician noticed that the nocturnal raptor's condition was severe, so he purchased it from the merchant and started caring for it at his home, with the owl eventually flying around the house.
During treatment, the physician noticed a metal ring on one of the owl's legs, engraved with an English inscription from Tel Aviv University. He contacted Prof. Noga Kornfeld-Schor, the Head of the Zoology Department in Tel Aviv University, via Facebook and told her about the owl.
Prof. Yossi Leshem from the Zoology Department at the university discovered that the owl was marked in May 2014 as part of a project by Kobi Mirom in the date plantations in Kibbutz Shluchot.
Prof. Leshem has been heading the national project for the use of owls and common kestrels as biological pest control in agriculture since 1982 with the cooperation of The Society for the Protection of Nature.
According to Prof. Leshem, the owl, an adult male, had apparently crossed the border into Jordan where it was captured and transferred to the market to be sold.
Leshem contacted the Jordanian project partner, General Mansur Abu-Rashid, the Chairman of the Amman Center for Peace and Development.
After contacting the physician, the Israeli researchers offered him payment for the owl he saved at his own expense, but the physician refused and upon finishing the medical treatment, he gave the owl to the general.
The nocturnal raptor was taken to a veterinarian, who declared the owl fit to return to nature.
Leshem notes that in Jordan there is a widespread phenomenon of illegal hunting and capturing of owls and that they suffer from an ill reputation as they are considered "bad luck" omens.
The project of using owls and kestrels as biological pest control in agriculture provides a cheap resource for a serious agricultural problem in a friendly manner that combines nature preservation with an actual benefit to society.
The project is a joint cooperation between The Society for the Protection of Nature, the Duchifat Fund, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Regional Cooperation Council, Tel Aviv University and Haifa University.
The project incorporates rich experience and academic research commenced in 1983 in Kibbutz Sdeh Eliahu, the flag-bearer of environmentally friendly agricultural development. The project already includes more than 3,500 nesting boxes for owls and about 400 nesting boxes for kestrels in agricultural lands around Israel.
Recently, the two partners from Israel and Jordan presented, along with Prof. Alexandre Roulin, a world renowned expert of owls from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, the project's principles and regional cooperation at the DLD conference for innovation, art, culture, science and technology, conducted in Munich, Germany in order to change the prevalent opinion that owls bode bad luck, and at the same time, increase awareness regarding the owl's function as a biological exterminator among the farmers and decision makers in Jordan, and reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture.