Nature

Second time lucky: ‘extinct’ giant owl back from the dead after 150 years

Thought to be extinct for over 150 years, the Shelley’s eagle owl was caught on camera by a British scientist in Ghana.

Thought to have been long gone, the Shelley’s eagle owl has reappeared in the African rainforest once again, much to the surprise of scientists. Biologists Joseph Tobias and Robert Williams were responsible for the fantastic image captured in the Atewa Forest, Ghana

“It was so large, at first we thought it was an eagle”, Dr. Tobias said. “Luckily it perched on a low branch and when we lifted our binoculars our jaws dropped. There is no other owl in Africa’s rainforests that big.”

Image: an illustration of the owl from 1875

Richard Bowdler Sharpe, curator of the bird collection at the Natural History Museum in Ghana, described its unique appearance with its large size, black eyes, yellow beak, and barred patterning, upon obtaining a specimen from a hunter.

Though there have been no official photographs until now, there was a very grainy photo taken in 2005 in the Congo, though it was too pixelated to confirm the animal was in fact the Shelley’s eagle owl.

However, local hunters and biologists have been reported on many occasions the animal’s distinctive call being heard. The animal is said to make a call that is higher in pitch compared to most owls in the area.

Environmental groups have already begun the process of campaigning to have the area regarded as a national park following the discovery. Currently, the bird’s territory is under threat from illegal logging and bauxite mining.

Though it may not be the friendliest looking owl, I think we can all agree that it’s worth saving.