Eagle-eyed guard saves threatened owl

A CARING security guard was the hero of the piece last week after his alert led to the rescue of a stricken owl, which he found trussed up with cable ties in a dirty toilet in North End. Mcedisi Tshetshane, 32, got the fright of his life and, he admitted, in line with his cultural beliefs, he spent the rest of the day fearing that bad luck was going to befall him.

But he immediately reported the matter and rescue was soon at hand in the form of raptor conservation and rehabilitation expert Arnold Slabbert.

Tshetshane is contracted through Eagle Security to secure Fidelity Chambers, which is situated on Govan Mbeki, near the New Law Courts.

The dirty little facility is in a courtyard, adjacent to Fidelity Chambers. The courtyard leads out via an alley into De Villiers Street, next to the courts.

Tshetshane said he was on a routine patrol when he found the bird.

“I check the toilet every day.  This time, on Thursday about 1pm, I heard fluttering. I went in and looked around the corner of the toilet.”

The owl was on the floor, on a piece of newspaper, he said.

‘”It was tied with cable ties.  It was looking at me with big eyes. I have never seen anything like that in my life, and I ran away.”

Tshetshane reported the matter to Major Moves Construction, one of the Fidelity Chambers tenants, and co-owner Annetjie de Beer got hold of Animal Anti-Cuelty League.

The league then put them onto Slabbert, she explained.

The bird’s one wing has slight muscle damage, but it should recover, and the intention is to release it back into the wild soon, Slabbert said.

Like the spotted eagle owls, the number of barn owls in the metro has plummeted due, once again, to secondary rodenticide poisoning, and also to destruction of old buildings, where they like to nest.

Two of the existing sites are in church steeples in Kamesh and Bethelsdorp where Slabbert has spent some time educating the community about the benefits of owls in terms of pest control.

He said that while it is not clear who the exact culprits are, the intention was clearly to use the cable-tied bird for muti purposes.

“In many cultures, owls are considered to be bad luck. So if you have an owl in you possession, you have power over bad luck.”

Tshetshane said he knew about owls having grown up in Engcobo in rural Transkei.

“I used to see them on the mountain near my home when I was herding cattle.”

He arrived in Port Elizabeth in April last year and never imagined he would encounter an owl here, he said.

“It made me afraid when I saw it. But I am glad it is safe.”


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