June 11, 2023


In Cyprus no-man's land, owls come to the rescue of farmers (AFP, June 10, 2023)

Standing amid ears of wheat growing tall in the buffer zone dividing Cyprus, farmer Christodoulos Christodoulou can rest easy.

The rodents that once ran rampant in the decades since the no-man's land was created and destroyed his crops are being driven out by owls.

"Our village was full of rats and mice. They ate our crops, nibbled on our tyres," recalls Christodoulou, who owns a farm in the demilitarised corridor that splits the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

"Then we set up these boxes for the owls," he said.

Around 50 light wooden boxes with circular openings have been installed on tree trunks as part of a 10-year-old initiative led by the BirdLife Cyprus non-governmental organisation and the Cypriot government.

BirdLife says the objectives of the project are to encourage farmers to abandon using poison and to help repopulate the barn owl population of Cyprus, which has been in decline across Europe.

Deneia, one of the few villages in the 180-kilometre (112-mile) buffer zone that is still inhabited, is now home to between 20 and 50 barn owls and their chicks -- recognisable by their milk-white plumage.

The birds of prey are only about 30 centimetres (12 inches) tall, but have large appetites, devouring as many as 5,000 rats and mice a year.

Posted by at June 11, 2023 12:00 AM