Monday, May 9, 2016

The Barn Owl Project

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) is elated.
The second pair of barn owls re-introduced in PJS9 in Bandar Sunway on March 29, 2016 had started to hunt for rats and feeding on their own – along the streets and back lanes of Sunway Metro’s commercial shop lots.
Universiti Sains Malaysia head researcher for the barn owl project Professor Dr Abu Hassan Ahmad said photographs and videos had captured the owls feeding on rats caught in the area.

Facebook pic at

UPM’s Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor said the rats in Bandar Sunway were huge. He said the female owl (named Moon) “could not fly off with the rat it caught because it was too heavy. It had to kill the rat and eat it by the street. It started with detaching the head of its prey and swallowing it. Moon then continued to eat the intestines of the rat.”
He added: “Once the carcass was lighter, Moon took it in her beak and flew to a nearby coconut tree to enjoy the rest of her meal”.
The joint effort between MPSJ, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and local community newsletter SJ Echo is the first-of-its-kind initiative in Malaysia and Asia.
The idea is simple – to urbanize barn owls and count on their predatory skills to control the rat population.
Universiti Putra Malaysia have since joined the project group led by Associate Prof Dr Hafidzi who is an expert in Vertebrate Pest Ecology & Biological Pest Control. 
USM head researcher for the barn owl project Professor Dr Abu Hassan Ahmad said barn owls (scientific name Tyto alba) have been deployed to kill rats in the local palm oil industry since 1970 but were not conditioned for urban mobilization until this MPSJ initiative. He said: “The challenge here is to condition the owls to urban surroundings unlike its natural habitat, which is free from noises and bright lights”. 
Twelve pairs of barn owls are to be released in batches in the Subang Jaya municipality area over a period of six months.
The first pair which was released in Jalan SS15/2E in Subang Jaya in December last year supposedly flew away and did not return.
Still, I reckon it is a welcome move.
MPSJ has a big headache with rats that freely roam at night. I was in SS15 one night and saw three rats in sight within a space of just twenty minutes.
I am sure Subang Jaya residents are equally elated with the latest progress.
On Saturday, I was at HELP University in Jalan Sri Semantan 1, Bukit Damansara to attend the HELP University Toastmasters meeting. It had been a long while since I went to their club meetings – and I am glad I did.

I was a speech evaluator for a CC #6 speech and I was also given a last-minute speaking slot. I too delivered a CC #6 speech titled “Chasing Demons”.

T'was a nice surprise when I was voted Best Speaker and Best Evaluator!

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