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Oman documents five endangered owl species in Buraimi

7 Jan 2024 Oman documents five endangered owl species in Buraimi By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – Environment specialists in Buraimi have documented five endangered species of owls in the governorate, which lies in northwestern Oman bordering the United Arab Emirates.

Buraimi, known for its diverse terrain from mountains to plains and valleys and wild trees, is a sanctuary for wildlife, particularly for a range of migratory and endemic birds.

This rich biodiversity has recently been highlighted through dedicated efforts of environment specialists in the region, for the protection and documentation of wildlife.

Mohammed bin Salem al Balushi, an environmental specialist at the Environment Department in Buraimi, played a pivotal role in these conservation efforts. Over a span of four years, Balushi and his team closely monitored and documented five rare owl species in the governorate, emphasising the significance of spotting these endangered species.

The documented owl species are:

Pharaoh eagle-owl: Widespread in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, this species is part of the true owl family. With a wingspan of approximately two metres and distinct yellow-orange eyes, it is known for nesting on cliffs and in old crows’ nests.

Short-eared owl: Common across the Northern Hemisphere, this species thrives in open areas like swamps and is unique for its daytime hunting habits.

Barn owl: Recognisable by its medium size, golden colour, and heart-shaped face, the Barn Owl is adaptable, living in open, wooded areas and even urban settings.

Little owl: With a round head and long legs, the female Little Owl boasts a gray-brown hue with white dots on its upper parts. It’s identified by its yellow eyes and light yellow beak.

Barred owl: This species, measuring about 21cm in length, is noted for its sandy gray colour and distinct black stripes.

Balushi’s team also did an intensive study of the breeding habits of these species, with the exception of the short-eared owl, which is migratory.

“Capturing these species on camera proved challenging; it showed that a high level of dedication and patience are required for such conservation work.”

The way forward, Balushi said, is to ensure their continued protection. “Key strategies include monitoring their habitats and keeping their locations confidential so as to safeguard them from potential threats like poaching.”

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