The launch of MTN’s Owl Network project is aimed at securing urban homes for barn owls and will see 100 boxes installed in network towers.
MTN barn owl boxes are made from recycled materials, and the little houses will be installed in high-density areas in Gauteng across Johannesburg North and West, with the other provinces to follow.
MTN SA’s executive for corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan said they decided to take steps when it emerged that there were growing numbers of barn owl families nesting in MTN towers.
“They are naturally drawn to urban areas, preferring to make their nests within existing structures and feed off rodents that are prevalent in urban environments. MTN towers are often a favoured location for a nest,” said O’Sullivan.
She said MTN chose to work with the Owl Rescue Centre on Project #OwlNetwork thanks to its history of rescue and rehabilitation of owls around the country.
The Owl Rescue Centre team travels across South Africa, removing barn owls and other raptor nests, eggs and young from cell towers.
“The Owl Rescue Centre has been doing an amazing job in ensuring the safety of both the owls and the mobile operator technicians,” said O’Sullivan.
Danelle Murray, co-founder & director of Owl Rescue Centre, says the top of towers and often, the inside floor areas are used for nests.
“This delays maintenance work on towers as eggs and young birds need to be removed before technicians can access the tower cables and equipment,” she said.
Owl houses provide a safe nesting site, which in turn will help grow the owl population in suburbs, creating a natural solution to rodent control.
“Owls don’t make their own nests, instead they make use of man-made structures, such as owl houses, to breed in,” she said.
The Owl Rescue Centre will make the owl boxes from recycled plastic. These boxes are durable and can be used for several years without any maintenance being necessary.
It will provide the owls with a sheltered spot to nest that will not interfere with the network and technicians.