Rare spot-bellied eagle-owl captured by man rescued

Ecological protection volunteers in Yingjiang County of southwest China's Yunnan Province on Wednesday rescued a spot-bellied eagle-owl from a man who had captured it. 

The volunteers launched the rescue operation after discovering a video, shared through social media app WeChat, showing a man wandering along the road holding a spot-bellied eagle-owl. The video went viral, catching the attention of a few bird lovers. 

They decided to free the bird, which is under second-class state protection. 

"I posted a message in my WeChat group of local bird enthusiasts and my WeChat buddy circle because the spot-bellied eagle-owl is very precious and so we tried to find any possible clues that lead to the bird," said Ban Dingying, head of the Yingjiang County Birdwatching Association. 

They finally found the bird in the county's Humeng Village. The bird was injured in its left eye. So, the local wildlife protection department decided to keep the bird temporarily and release it back into nature when its physical health improves. 

"The bird we saved today is a spot-bellied eagle-owl, a very rare type of owl. In China, their appearance has only been recorded in the western and southern parts of Yunnan, as well as in some other tropical areas in Guangxi and Hainan," said Zeng Xiangle, a member of the volunteer service team for natural ecological protection in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan. 

The spot-bellied eagle-owl, also known as the forest eagle-owl, is a large bird of prey that lives in deep forests. It feeds on pheasants, rats, lizards, snakes and fish. It has also been reported to kill jackals, hares and fawns. 

(Cover image via VCG.)

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