Shamwari Game Reserve is home to a variety of animals, fauna, flora, and bird species. A common sighting in the skies here is the Bubo Africanus, also known as the Spotted Eagle Owl, which is one of the smallest of this species.

What is a Spotted Eagle Owl?

Spotted Eagle Owl face

A Spotted Eagle Owl, also known as the African Eagle Owl is a mid-sized bird with fluffy ear-tufts and large bright yellow eyes. As the latter name suggests, this owl hails from Africa and can be spotted from Southern Africa to countries as far as the DRC, Uganda and Kenya. The owl can also be found in the very south of Saudi Arabia.

The appearance of this owl varies, as do most things in nature. The average appearance shows an overall grey covering (which can appear as dark brown in the wild), with white spots. This owl’s habits are nocturnal for the most part, however, they can surprise bird watchers with the odd sunrise appearance.

These Spotted Eagle Owls are natural predators that target many animals to be considered pests. This makes these animals incredibly beneficial to humans and more importantly – the ecosystem. The African Eagle Owl feeds on insects and even rats – both of which should be appreciated by people living with pest problems.

While these owls are helpful to humankind, unfortunately, they bear the burden of various superstitions. While some myths or stories may be magical, connected with knowledge and wisdom, that is not always the case. Many cultures believe that owls bring death, bad luck and even evil.

The good news for the Bubo Africanus is that their population is healthy and not under any immediate threat. To help keep the Spotted Eagle Owl out of trouble, you can help with the following:

  • Communicate to any friends or family that Owls have not been proven to bring bad omens, and reiterate how they indeed help keep pests under control.
  • Slow down when driving at night, this can help prevent hitting an eagle owl (Bubo Africanus) by accident when speeding.
  • If you live in an area that suits the habitat of the spotted eagle owl species, you can build or buy an owl box to offer them a safe space.

Here you can watch a short video of a Spotted Eagle Owl, in South Africa.

The story of a Spotted Eagle Chick

At the reserve, a pair of these birds have set up residence above a drift. And, much to the delight of the rangers and guests, during their nesting, they managed to expand their family and have two little chicks. As they were close enough, it provided onlookers with the rare opportunity to witness them in their natural habitat.

While out on a morning game drive, ranger Bethuel and his clients, Lisa and Peter Kitteredge, found a Spotted Eagle Owl chick in the road. It turns out, it had fallen out of the nest and been hit by a car, injuring its little wing.

They urgently contacted the head ranger, Andrew, who arranged for the chick to be taken to the on-site Animal Rehabilitation Centre. Headed by Dr Johan Joubert, and his vet nurse, Megan Sinclair, animals are brought here to be treated and nursed back to health, to be re-released.

The young patient arrived with wide yellow eyes in Lisa’s lap wrapped up in her jersey. And, after a brief examination, he was rushed into surgery to fix his damaged wing. Following a successful procedure, his appendage was bandaged up and he was put into a small holding area for monitoring.

This determined little fellow was soon making a tremendous and speedy recovery and was shortly moved to an outside enclosure to start exercising. And, Shamwari is now happy to report that his flying ability improves daily, which means he’ll soon be re-released into his natural habitat.

The Animal Rehabilitation Centre is part of the Shamwari Game Reserve conservation effort to rescue and care for sick, abandoned, or orphaned animals. In addition to caring for wildlife, it’s open to visitors to see and experience it for themselves.