Being Considered to be Out of His Mind when Breeding Owls in Palm Oil Plantation

Being Considered to be Out of His Mind when Breeding Owls in Palm Oil Plantation

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA - Owl (tyto alba) is mostly bred in integrated pest control or pengendalian hama terpadu (PHT) in some palm oil plantations. This is effective to get rid of the rats and minimize chemical use. When he was breeding owls for the first time to control the rats, many thought he was out of his mind.

Actually, breeding owl (tyto alba) in palm oil plantation was inspired by something unexpected. As an employee in palm oil plantation, Mochammad Syaphon Adiwijaya stays in a 1916 English big house, which belong to foreign plantation company. But after Indonesia’s independence, it was handed over to Indonesia and bought by a private company.

When staying at the house, he and his family were curious because of seven rooms in the house, two rooms at the back of it was unintentionally used. Every night from the rooms, there were bangs on the ceiling. They thought something horrifying and mystical and also there was predator at their house.

To figure out their curiosity, Syaphon told the office boy at his house to check up. And finally, they knew, a couple of owls lived there. When Syaphon saw it, there were bones of rats and rotten rats laying on the floor.

From the moment, he thought that owls are predators for the rats. He got the idea how to breed owls to hunt rats in 1990s. Then he read a book “Anak Penggembala Kambing jadi Planters Sukses” by Maruli Pardamean. Syaphon established Pusat Kesehatan Burung Hantu (Puskesburhan) which the goal is to nurse the sick owls. After the owls got better, they would be returning to the fields or put back to a new cage.

Breeding owls should pass some phases, such as, to know the owls’ ability to eat rats, to know if owls have specific foods or not, and how to breed them. After that, he knew that owls like eating rats – one to three rats per day. He came to a conclusion that it is good to breed owls because rats breed fast enough.

From the test, he also knew, owls just like eating rats, not others. After one year – test, he knew that one female owl could lay four to eleven eggs in one period. One period consists of 4,5 – 5,5 months. It means, in one year one female owl could lay 8 to 22 eggs.

It was not easy to breed owls. Syaphon was taken to be out of his mind. People at the time were afraid of owls but he bred and spread the owls in every corner of the plantations. Many took him as the enemy, namely the people around the plantations.

For more, please read InfoSAWIT, June 2022