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The mayor of Torrox Óscar Medina on Tuesday with one of the white owl chicks. SUR
Costa del Sol school unveils pioneering project to reintroduce barn owls into the local area
Nature

Costa del Sol school unveils pioneering project to reintroduce barn owls into the local area

The bird is classified as endangered and the species is becoming increasingly rare in Malaga province, with just twenty breeding pairs left

Eugenio Cabezas

Torrox

Friday, 3 May 2024, 05:57

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The barn owl is classified as endangered and the species is becoming increasingly rare in Malaga, with just twenty breeding pairs left. In Spain, its population has been reduced by 60 per cent in the last decade. However, the species can play an important role in agriculture as it acts as pest control, consuming up to a thousand rodents a year.

This is why the Alfaguar secondary school in Torrox, on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol has decided to take steps to help the local barn owl population. On Tuesday 30 April the school presented its educational and environmental project 'Alas Sabias' (wise wings) which is being sponsored by the town hall.

The initiative aims to reintroduce the barn owl back into its natural habitat and has been developed by students in year four, with the help of biology teacher Carlos Castillo. Two male chicks, who have been named Abul and Abe, have been placed in a nest box on the roof of the school, where they will be fed until they are independent.

Visiting the school on Tuesday, Mayor of Torrox Óscar Medina described this pioneering project as "beautiful and very responsible". The mayor thanked all the teachers and students at the school for their involvement in the initiative, as well as the councillors for the environment and education.

Medina said, "We are very proud to champion all kinds of innovative and unique educational projects like this one in the province". He also highlighted the importance of "respect for nature and the environment in a precious and very responsible challenge with endangered species that have always been among us".

24-hour webcam

Head teacher Rosa María Torres said that the project "has been going on for several months" and went on to thank the town hall for its support in "a team effort". She also acknowledged the support of the Centro de Profesorado (CEPER) de la Axarquía. She said she hopes the initiative "will be useful to the students academically, but also to make them grow personally".

Carlos Castillo thanked the rest of the teaching staff at the school for their involvement and explained that a screen has been installed in the library, which is connected to a 24-hour webcam from the roof to follow the evolution of the owl chicks "until they fly and become independent"., he said.

The biology teacher added that his year four students are "the soul, the reason and the driving force behind this project", which aims to show, among other things, that the owl "is a very endangered species with more than 60 per cent of its population lost in recent years". According to Castillo, "it is essential that new generations become aware and commit themselves to environmental projects such as this one."

A group of pupils from the school explained that this is "the first school in Malaga" to carry out such an initiative. They stressed that the owls "are becoming extinct" and described the project as "incredible for bringing a protected species back to Torrox".

As they pointed out in their speech "we all benefit" as owls are "pest controllers". They also highlighted the fact that the school has been decorated with owl motifs and drawings and that the construction of the nesting box for the roof was "an arduous job" done all together.

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