Although a small society the IOS has developed and maintained a keen involvement, through both advisory and financial support in overseas owl conservation projects since its inception.
The projects include -
The Nigerian Fish Owl Project
Investigating Fish Owl populations along the Ogwe River (a tributary of the Niger) near Agenobode in Nigeria.
The Dominican Republic Owl Conservation Project
This project was established under the auspices of the Dominican Government and the Society for Conservation Research of Owls to protect the four owl species* resident on the island of Hispaniola against a backdrop of a tripling in the local population and an 85% loss of original habitat to agriculture and tourism.
- *The Ashy-faced Owl –Tyto glaucops
- The Hispaniola Short-eared Owl-Asio flammeus domigensis
- The Hispaniola Stygian Owl-Asio stygius noctipetens
- The Hispaniola Burrowing Owl-Athene cunicularia troglodytes
The IOS provided funds to facilitate the DNA testing of birds as well as general financial support for the work of the project which resulted in captive bred birds being reintroduced into the wild.
The Uganda Owl Conservation Project
In collaboration with the Department of Wild Animal and Resources Management at Makerere University this IOS driven project was established initially carry out a preliminary study of owl species in the Kampala region, their feeding habits and to establish the effects on them of urban expansion and concomitant pressures. Given historically the extremely negative attitudes induced by myth and folklore towards owls by local populations (owls traditionally being regarded as birds of bad omen and as symbols or announcers of death) the project also developed an educational bias in addition to its scientific studies.
The Cuscungo Initiative-Ecuador
This project to which the IOS donated is named after Ecuador’s largest owl the Great Horned Owl and commenced in 2009 as an ongoing research and conservation programme. Ecuador possesses one of the richest and diverse populations of owls and other nocturnal bird species of any neo-tropical country with over 28 owl species having been recorded within its borders. the study commenced with investigations of three pygmy and six screech owl species before moving onto rarer Andean owl species including the Buff-fronted and Stygian Owls.
Blakiston’s Fish Owl Project
This, our currently supported project, is focussed on the conservation of the world’s largest, endangered and most enigmatic of owl species, and operates under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Programme and is headed by Dr Jonathan Slaght (see photograph above reproduced from the cover of Science Times February 2013). The diminution of fish owl habitats in Russia can be directly linked to the collapse of the old Soviet Union and the end of logging restrictions from that era and the subsequent “harvesting” of forests via burgeoning road networks which unsurprisingly followed river courses thereby impacting on fish owl habitats.
A joint study recently concluded by Jonathan Slaght in company with Sergei Surmach an ornithologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences questions whether fish owls and other endangered species such as the Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard can co-exist with logging companies. Clearly logging is not going to end but the authors are determined to encourage practices under which human activity is balanced with the needs of wildlife and the continued health and well-being of the forest environment.
Photographs above courtesy of WCS and Dr Jonathan Slaght
A new page with links to Conservation Programme Research papers will be added to the site shortly.