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ONLINE NEWS: BARN OWLS CAN REDUCE RAT POPULATION IN OIL PALM PLATATIONS

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Barn owls can reduce rat population in oil palm plantations

By SITI ZUBAIDAH ZAKARAYA | 16 March 2023

BOSI participants listened to the explanation regarding the use of barn owls to control pest rodent populations in oil palm plantations.
BOSI participants listened to the explanation regarding the use of barn owls to control pest rodent populations in oil palm plantations.

BANDAR BAHARU - The use of barn owls in oil palm plantations can control and reduce the rat population, thus minimising the use of dangerous chemical poisons.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Barn Owl and Rodent Research Group (BORG) head researcher Dr Hasber Salim said a pair of barn owls and their chicks are capable of eating about 1,300 rats a year, where studies show that rats comprise up to 99 per cent of the bird's diet.

Hasber added that the existence of barn owls helps smallholders reduce the pest rat population and even minimise the use and purchase of rat poison, which is often associated with harmful chemical effects on biodiversity in oil palm plantations and its food chain.

"Barn owls have long been used in the industry, but this time, we want to help smallholders."

"We know that the use of chemical control is more widespread because it is easy to obtain and the method of use is simple, but in the long term there is a risk of having a toxic effect not only on pests but also on human life.

"The biological approach we use can control rats while preserving the environment."

"Smallholders may already be comfortable using chemical poisons because they show a quick effect; after two or three days the rats are dead, but if you use biological methods, you won't see rats in front of your eyes, but it gives long-term benefits," he said.

He said this during the launch of the Barn Owl for Oil Palm Smallholders Initiative (BOSI), which was officiated by Malaysian Palm Oil Green Recovery Foundation (MPOGCF) general manager, Zamakhshari Muhamad, at the Al-Huda Mosque here on Tuesday.

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