A rare species of giant owl has been spotted in the wild for the first time in 150 years.
Shelley’s eagle-owl was seen in Ghana by researchers Dr Joseph Tobias and Dr Robert Williams. There haven’t been any confirmed sightings in Ghana since the 1870s. The scientists only spotted the bird for a few seconds but managed to quickly take this photo. Dr Tobias said: “When we lifted our binoculars, our jaws dropped”.
The photo confirmed that owl was indeed a Shelley’s eagle-owl with its distinctive black eyes, yellow beak and huge size. The only photographs to exist before were blurry images taken in 1975 of a captive bird at a zoo. Dr Tobias and Dr Williams were in Atewa forest in Ghana when they spotted the bird having a daytime nap. “It was so large, at first we thought it was an eagle,” said Dr Tobias.
Shelley’s eagle-owls are officially classed as vulnerable to extinction, with an estimated population of a few thousand. This new sighting gives hope for the species. The Atewa forest, where the bird was spotted, is an important ecosystem in West Africa with high species diversity. But the forest is threatened by human activities such as hunting and mining, so environmental groups are calling for the area to become a national park in order to keep it protected. Dr Williams said: “We hope this sighting draws attention to Atewa forest and its importance for conserving local biodiversity. Hopefully, the discovery of such a rare and magnificent owl will boost these efforts to save one of the last wild forests in Ghana.”
It’s another mysterious connection for in The Earth Emperor’s Eye we learn of Mary Shelley’s membership of the Blakesware Set and her role in contributing to the miraculous Haymakers Survey. Mary Shelley famously penned Frankenstein as a warning on the perils of unchecked ‘progress’. Could the extremely rare bird’s capture on camera be further proof of the majesty of the all-powerful Earth Emperor?