Lakshadweep recruits Barn Owls to fight rodent menace


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Barn Owls

Mains level : Not Much

  • With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the UT of Lakshadweep hires barn owls for help.

What is barn?

  • A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes.
  • It refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain.

Recruiting barn owls

  • Coconut is an important money-spinner for the islands, but the pesky rodents account for 30-40% of the yield loss.
  • However, employing owls to hunt down rats is not exactly a new idea for the islanders.
  • Similar attempts were reportedly made in the 1960s as well.
  • The birds were reintroduced in the 19th century for rodent management.

Why barn owls?

  • The reason is that the rats in the Lakshadweep Islands practically live on treetops.
  • The coconut palms here grow so close together that they resemble a jungle. The fronds overlap, allowing the rodents to move easily from one tree to another.
  • Besides, the nocturnal barn owls are natural rat hunters, armed with a powerful auditory mechanism.
  • There is also an important environmental angle to Lakshadweep’s decision to choose biocontrol.
  • The islands being a designated organic zone, use of chemicals for pest control is a strict no-no.
  • If successful, the barn owl campaign will be extended to other islands in Lakshadweep as well.
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