A giant owl that has not been seen in the wild for the last 150 years has been finally spotted in a rainforest in Ghana, raising hopes for the survival of the vulnerable species.
According to reports, the Shelley’s Eagle-Owl was spotted in the Atewa Forest in Ghana on October 16.
The discovery was made by Imperial College London biologist Joseph Tobias and freelance ecologist Robert Williams.
According to reports, the owl was last seen in Ghana in the 1870s, the same year it was first described.
The owl is now a “Holy Grail” for birdwatchers in Africa.
There have been many alleged sightings in the last couple of decades in Central and West Africa, even in Angola and Liberia, however, the claims were never confirmed and there were no proof for the claims.
Talking about the owl, Dr. Tobias said:
It was so large, at first we thought it was an eagle. Luckily it perched on a low branch and when we lifted our binoculars our jaws dropped. There is no other owl in Africa’s rainforests that big.
The owl reportedly perched still for around 10 to 15 seconds, before flying away.
The good thing is that Imperial College London biologist Joseph Tobias and freelance ecologist Robert Williams managed to take pictures of the owl.
Biodiversity expert Nathaniel Annorbah of Ghana’s University of Environment and Sustainable Development said:
This is a sensational discovery. We’ve been searching for this mysterious bird for years in the western lowlands, so to find it here in ridgetop forests of Eastern Region is a huge surprise.
The Shelley’s eagle-owl was first noted by British ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe.
Sharpe is a curator of the Natural History Museum in London’s bird collection.