By Brian Blum - February 8, 2018
Originally appeared here in Israel21c
The path to peace in the Middle East might be navigated not via a dove carrying an olive branch but by a lowly barn owl.
Barn owls have been used in Israel since 1982 as an alternative to toxic chemicals for killing voles, which at the time plagued Israeli agricultural fields. The preferred chemical against rodents – known as compound 1080 – had been banned a decade earlier in the United States, although not in Israel.
Ornithologist Yossi Leshem thought that owls might be able to control the rodents more naturally.
Leshem set up an experiment at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in 1983. Three decades later, the barn owl approach has spread throughout the Palestinian territories and into Jordan as well.
“Birds have the power to bring people together, because they know no boundaries,” says Leshem, who teaches at Tel Aviv University.
That’s in part how 22 participants from 10 countries (including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Cyprus, Greece, France and Switzerland in addition to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan) came together in January to share research from their barn owl vs. rodent experiences.
The group met at the Crowne Plaza resort hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea where they discussed scientific findings and hatch plans. Read More