Port Elizabeth – About a dozen spotted eagle owls have died of poisoning in the past six weeks in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Eastern Cape, according to a newspaper report on Tuesday.
Raptor expert Arnold Slabbert told The Herald that deaths were linked to the continuing problem of secondary rat poisoning in food packing warehouses and in households.
He said it was also linked to the movement of young owls into new territories as they fledge from their parentsâ€™ nests.
“Itâ€™s really upsetting. While there are more and more folk who phone in and clearly want to do the right thing, there is still way too much poison and careless use of poisons out there.
“Iâ€™ve been receiving about two poisoned owl call-outs a week for the past six weeks.
“Owls used to be so much part of this metro, but we are systematically eradicating them.â€?
Rodenticide poisoning brings on a desperate thirst and the rat will often venture further and longer in the open than it usually would, in search of water. If its brain haemorrhages, it will be staggering around, he explained.
“However slightly itâ€™s struggling, this vulnerability is detected by the raptor, and the target is chosen. The rat is wolfed down and the poison which has not yet killed the rat kills the hunter.â€?