Birds of Prey Programme

Anglo African Grass-Owl Project

The Anglo African Grass-Owl Project commenced in 2008 as a collaborative project between Anglo Inyosi Coal, the EWT’s Birds of Prey Programme and the Tshwane University of Technology.

The African Grass-owl (Tyto capensis), is a habitat specialist and mainly restricted to the open, grassy habitats of marshes, wetlands and floodplains. Unfortunately there is not much else known about this species except that they are very rare and it is estimated that there are less than 5000 birds left in southern Africa. The project was initiated in order to address the growing concern of habitat decline and the current lack of knowledge with regard to managing Highveld grasslands for this threatened species.

Coal mine rehabilitation sites represent a potential tool for the restoration of African Grass-Owl habitat, and may be very important for the future conservation of this species in light of the current prominence of coal mining on Highveld grasslands. The Highveld of South Africa is our main study area and the current stronghold for the species. Form previous studies we now know the basic requirements of the African Grass-Owl with respect to breeding habitat quality and diet. We can therefore sample and quantify the viability of potential habitat for the species. Taking the project forward, we now aim to study and monitor all known nesting sites to determine the breeding success and productivity of the species. We also identified all potential habitats within Mpumalanga Province, which will be surveyed in order to determine Grass-Owl occupancy and territory size. The ultimate aim of this endeavour is to model population size and viability within the province.

Tselane Rebotile Rachuene: Field Officer