The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

This Strange Mountain Owl in Tanzania gives the entire world sleepless nights

There is a distinct large owl lurking within the thick trees in the Amani Nature Forest Reserve after dusk and which gives tourists from all over the world sleepless nights.

According to conservators, this is because the nocturnal flying mammal happens to be a very rare species, albeit almost becoming extinct and that can only be spotted through undertaking lengthy forest treks at night causing foreign visitors to stay awake for the after dusk excursions, to simply spot the special owl.

“The Usambara Vosseier Eagle Owl, which is endemic to Amani Forest Reserve, is also known as the global weather machine as it can predict rain, drought and other natural calamities,” explains an Assistant Researcher Aloyce John Mkongewa.

Mkongewa told members of the Journalists Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) visiting Amani Forest under the auspices of USAID Preserve Natural Resources activity, that the owl previously also used to be seen in parts of Malawi and Mozambique.

However the Vosseier eagle has since become an endangered species, now only perching on trees found within the Usambara Mountains in the North-Eastern range of Tanzania.

Describing the unique features of the rare Vosseier Eagle Owl, the tour guide at Amani Forest, Gabriel Ponera said it is larger than other owls, has silent flight and landing, produces different hooting sound and its body strongly vibrates in the process.

The Usambara eagle-owl is documented by birds’ watchers as a large flying mammal spotting yellowish-brown upper parts that are barred with darker brown and creamy white under parts, with tanned blotches on the breast and irregular black bars on the belly.

“The owl is very much sought after by tourists who travel from every corner of the world to simply get a glimpse of the nocturnal eagle,” explains Ponera, adding that it takes a series of night forest trekking exploits for visitors to be able to view the large bird.

The Acting Chief Conservator at the Amani Nature Reserve, Alphonce Aldo Nyululu said the owl can however be found on both wings of the forest including the part which falls on the Lushoto District side, as well as the adjoining Nilo reserve.

“The rare Usambara Eagle Owl is currently a prized species of wildlife for the Amani Forest,” affirms Aldo Nyululu.

Apparently, many African cultures believe that when an owl starts shrieking at night it usually predicts death or symbolizes bad luck.

However, the Usambara species seem to be minting massive income into the national coffers instead.

In fact, according to conservationists in the area, the night eagle actually spells good luck in the country’s tourism.

Amani Nature Forest Reserve of Muheza District in Tanga Region attracts more than 6820 tourists in a year and yields over 41 million/- in the process, thanks to the area’s endemic fauna and flora richness.

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