Independent Online

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Township owls inspire pupils’ art

06/06/2016 Gregory Mabaso, a grade 7 pupil from Marlboro Secondary School, East of Sandton, Johannesburg, painted owl pictures on recycled wood and displayed outside the school fence. This is in celebration of "Alexander Township Owl Day" which falls on the 6th of June. Having the best artwork, he won himself a brand new soccer ball. Picture : Simone Kley

06/06/2016 Gregory Mabaso, a grade 7 pupil from Marlboro Secondary School, East of Sandton, Johannesburg, painted owl pictures on recycled wood and displayed outside the school fence. This is in celebration of "Alexander Township Owl Day" which falls on the 6th of June. Having the best artwork, he won himself a brand new soccer ball. Picture : Simone Kley

Published Jun 7, 2016

Share

Hundreds of schoolchildren across Alexandra yesterday celebrated an unlikely township hero: the owl.

For the inaugural Alex Owl Day, coinciding with World Environment Day this weekend, pupils at five primary schools in the township displayed owl artwork and commemorated an owl-release programme, which for more than a decade has given pupils interested in the environment the chance to nurture and release orphan owls into the wild.

Story continues below Advertisement

The event featured an art competition between the schools, with the winning school, Marlboro Gardens Combined School, receiving R5,000 to go towards the creation of an environmental club.

“This is just another way to continue to raise awareness about owls,” said Kefiloe Motaung, co-ordinator of the Township Owl Project.

“It’s almost an aggressive strategy to raise awareness and it’s also fun. You’re raising awareness, but in the same breath you’re creating art.”

Story continues below Advertisement

This year, around 150 pupils at each of the five schools created artwork, with 10 designated “owl ambassadors”- tasked with feeding and releasing the owls, Motaung said.

The birds - barn owls usually released in pairs - are donated by Alex residents who don’t want the owls on their property. They are then kept in boxes at the schools for about three weeks to get acclimatised to the area before being released.

The pupils’ art was displayed on wooden slabs collected from the release boxes, and involved learners who learnt about owls and took part in activities such as owl-pellet dissection.

Story continues below Advertisement

Shantel Mageza, a Grade 4 pupil at Carter Primary School who’ll take part in the release programme next year, said she was excited to feed the owls.

Another Grade 4 pupil, Bokang Brown, said he likes owls as they eat rats. “The owls will save our school uniforms,”he said. “Our uniforms have holes because of the rats.”

Beyond educatingchildren about their environment, the programme serves a practical purpose: to provide a solution for the township’s rat infestation.

Story continues below Advertisement

Jonathan Haw, director of the programme, said schools may not use rat poison and are in quiet areas where owls can flourish.

@OliviaExstrum

Related Topics:

Share