A new species of owl has been spotted in the rainforest of an island off the west coast of Africa.
The bird was found on the island of Principe, which is part of the country of Sao Tome and Principe.
It has been so named, officially Principe Scops-Owl – or Otus bikegila.
While local testimony suggested it may have lived there as early as 1928, scientists did not confirm its existence until 2016.
After an extensive survey of its homeland, researchers from Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and the University of Porto’s Museum of Natural History and Science have now taken pictures of the Principe owl.
One of the main clues that led to its discovery was its unique summoning.
“Otus Bikegila’s distinctive call is a short ‘tuu’ note repeated at a rate of one note per second, reminiscent of an insect call. It is usually made in a duet, almost at night,” explains Martim Melo road.
Where exactly were the owls found?
When the entire island was searched, the owl was only found in uninhabited forests in the south.
It occupies a relatively small area of only 15 square kilometers, about four times the size of New York’s Central Park.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 owls occupy the space, the researchers said.
The owl is the eighth known bird in Principe.
Although the owl population is quite high relative to the size of their home, the researchers say they should be classified as critically endangered.
Their status will be determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which could place the owls on a red list of the highest threat level.
“The discovery of a new species that is immediately assessed as highly threatened is a good illustration of the current biodiversity dilemma,” the researchers said.
“On the positive side, the Principe Owl’s habitat is completely contained within the Principe Obo Natural Park, which will hopefully help protect it.”
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