Initiative by BirdLife Cyprus NGO and Cypriot government aims to encourage farmers to abandon poison to deal with the rodent problem and help boost the barn owl populationThe owls’ presence has had a ‘radical’ impact in driving away the rodents and allowing farmers to practise organic farming

Standing amid ears of wheat growing tall in the buffer zone dividing Cyprus, farmer Christodoulos Christodoulou can rest easy.

The rodents that once ran rampant in the decades since the no-man’s-land was created and destroyed his crops are being driven out by owls.

“Our village was full of rats and mice. They ate our crops, nibbled on our tyres,” recalls Christodoulou, who owns a farm in the demilitarised corridor that splits the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

“Then we set up these boxes for the owls,” he said.

Around 50 light wooden boxes with circular openings have been installed on tree trunks as part of a 10-year-old initiative led by the BirdLife Cyprus non-governmental organisation and the Cypriot government.

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