Barn Owl electrocuted

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible, Owls | 5

“On a cycling trip in Southern Kedah, Malaysia, along the long coastal bund road, we found this Barn Owl (Tyto alba) gripping tightly on the live cables (left, below). I could see some flies but no foul smell, probably due to the strong breeze from the sea as this corpse was high above.

“I personally had encountered live wire and the moment I touched, it ‘boomed’ loudly with flying sparks and it actually repulsed me. Not sure why this fated owl still held on the cable. If the owl has linked up the circuit (+ve & -ve) then I am sure it would be charcoal black. The photos only showed the black-burnt beak area. I have seen a whole monkey burnt to charcoal when caught on such live cables.


“Another point I would like to note is that modern live cables near housing areas are now seen to be coated. This one still has not changed. Do you think this issue should be highlighted to the responsible utility company? What about other countries, anyone can comment about live cables in your country and perhaps fatalities on wildlife? It would be interesting to learn about this live cables issue in conservation of wildlife.”

Forest Ang
10th July 2010

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

5 Responses

  1. Steven

    Yet another example of the shoddy workmanship and lack of attention to safety that are the hallmarks of Malaysia. I’m surprised half the country hasn’t burned down of fallen over, given the pathetic and dangerous construction and building practices.

  2. Sun Chong Hong

    As a retired electrical engineer, I would like to advise that the use of bare wire system to supply electricity is a standard engineering practice worldwide. The voltage used in the transmission of electricity can be as high as 800KV.

    In the photos which showed the cables used for low voltage distribution, the voltage between any 2 of the 3 “live” wires on top is 415V. The voltage between any one of the top 3 “live” wires and the bottom “neutral” wire is 240V. I suspect that the supply would have already been cut off caused by the electrocution of the unfortunate owl.

    Standards evolve with time. Insulated system is increasingly becoming more acceptable on cost/quality consideration. However, while newer housing estates with higher population density get to enjoy the newer standards, older ones may have to wait a while for the upgrading of infrastructure.

  3. Forest

    Steven was right, its the hallmark of Malaysia Boleh. If you look at the first picture again, the left side of the bund is actually the coast. It was hard hit by tsunami and all the houses along the coast were wiped out. Hence, there is no neccesity to have the cables there. There is no effort to dismantle them after so many years after the 2004-tsunami. This is the “tidak-apa” and the “makan-gaji-buta” mentality.

  4. Sun Chong Hong

    There may not be any houses there for the time being, but electricity is still required for the upkeep, maintenance of the area, and for future developments. As in other infrastructure like water, transport and communication links, it remains there once it is in place, unless there are good reasons to remove them. Just for argument, would water and electricity be welcome in the North Pole or Sahara Deserts?

  5. Leena Taneja Rao

    Growing up in India, one of the most common sights for us was of dead bats hanging from overhead live wires along roads. As the population of bats decreased, such sights became fewer and further between. Sadly, even elephants are known to have been electrocuted.

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