For some time now, owls have been employed in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township to curb the prevalence of rats. Owl nesting and release boxes have been installed in five schools in the area since 2012 and one has been in Marlboro since 2006.
Unfortunately, owls still carry a bad reputation among many cultures in South Africa, due to superstition and folklore.
Earlier this year, after rescuing an injured owl in Alexandra from children throwing rocks at it, the Sandton Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Owlproject.org intervened to help educate the local children on animal welfare issues.
The project has also been extended to the minibus-taxi industry…
“When we decided to tackle taxis as an education project, everybody laughed. We, too, thought that putting ‘Owls eat rats’ stickers on taxis would be a hard sell. We had no idea that most of the taxi drivers and owners in Alexandra had not only heard about Owlproject.org, but were also happy to place our bumper stickers on their vehicles.
“What was wonderful to hear was that some of the taxi drivers’ children had actually participated in the Owl Project at their schools,” says Delina Chipape, project coordinator.
“With over 3,9-million school learners using public transport on a daily basis in South Africa, we want to get as many taxis involved as possible. We would love some help. A simple R5 donation adds another owl-friendly taxi to our collection,” she notes.
To help keep the project running, Chipape makes a plea for support: “If you see a taxi with our sticker, please send us a picture, including the number plate, and we will drop a Junior Scientist Kit into the post for you, your child or your grandchild. We always welcome support in other ways, too.”