Owls Save the Palm Oil Industry
The palm oil industry in the tropical areas of the world has taken to hiring birds of prey in order to protect its highly valuable crops from swarms of rodents. In southeast Asia, leading producers of the vegetable have tried all manner of pest control schemes – from snakes to poison – but none seem to have worked against the menace of pests such as mice and rats. However, the use of owls has seen a marked increase in success – it’s also good for the industry’s green credentials, and is cheap. Indonesian palm oil giant Sampoerna Agro has hired owls – that even have their own trainers – that, as natural predators, are able to dispose of three to five rats in a day. Palm oil is an edible substance used in everything from biscuits to ice cream but rats have been responsible for around 5% of all losses. According to Indonesian producer BWPT, the use of barn owls has saved the company $300,000 a year.