Security at Buskett heightened as barn owl conservation project enters next phase

The barn owl conservation project undertaken by hunting organisation FKNK at Buskett aims to introduce the species back into the wild after it went extinct in the 1980s

Conservationists are hoping that Tyto and Alba will mate successfully so that their offspring can then be introduced back into the wild
Conservationists are hoping that Tyto and Alba will mate successfully so that their offspring can then be introduced back into the wild

The barn owl project at Buskett has entered its third phase, with the first pair of birds having been introduced to each other amid heightened security in the woodland.

The project is being spearheaded by the Federation for Hunters, Trappers and Conservationists (FKNK) and is part-financed by the government, and will look to introduce the barn owl species back into the wild. 

The barn owl was driven to extinction from Malta, with the last recorded breeding pair in the wild harking back to the early 1980s.

The pair have been named Tyto and Alba, derived from the scientific term for the species, Tyto alba. They are being housed in an enclosure at the Razzett tal-Bagħal in Buskett and conservationists are hoping they will mate successfully so that their offspring could be re-introduced into the wild.

The birds can be viewed by the public on a livestream straight from their enclosure.

Barn owl project director Lucas Micallef (left) with Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia. Standing in between is Lino Farrugia, president of the FKNK that is coordinating the project
Barn owl project director Lucas Micallef (left) with Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia. Standing in between is Lino Farrugia, president of the FKNK that is coordinating the project

The project’s coordinator Lucas Micallef said that this was an important step for the country’s biodiversity. “In the coming weeks, we expect, with the assistance of livestreaming, to monitor Tyto and Alba’s behaviour, and look forward to the positive results which will see the barn owl return to the wild eventually,” he said.

Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said security in the Buskett area will be heightened through added investment to ensure that not only the farmhouse and the birds are protected, but also that the entire Buskett area. Farrugia said better security will ensure that crimes and accidents such as littering, theft, fires, and vandalism are avoided.

In September, a man was filmed on CCTV footage entering the owl enclosures.

Two of five barn owls kept inside the captive breeding area were found to have been removed.

The court had denied bail.

READ ALSO: ‘Owl’-righty then! Buskett gets ready for the return of the barbaġann

 

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