October 16, 2011, Updated September 11, 2012

There were no Hollywood stars or A-list actors in the documentaries at the recent Agrofilm Festival. Instead, nature’s best took the spotlight at the 28th film festival in Nitra, Slovakia.

Israel’s barn owls and kestrel raptors showed off their “natural hunting machine” tactics to eliminate rodents and win first place in the expert and instructive films category. The film, The Use of Barn Owls and Kestrels as Biological Control Agents, was produced by Yuval Dax and backed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Tel Aviv University.

According to the 11-minute film, “with stereoscopic vision, sharper hearing than that of humans and silent flight, the barn owl is ‘the answer’ to what was formerly a field ridden with potentially cancerous pesticides.”

The win took producer Dax by surprise.

“This is an indication of the appreciation of the act of all of us in the field of nature conservation in Israel. Most of those involved worked voluntarily and invested in the ideology of conserving nature. An addition film about subject of ecological conservation of swallow populations, which is already ‘in the oven,’ will be submitted to the competition next year,” he said in a statement.

According to the film, the barn owl can catch 2,000 to 5,000 rodents per year and improve agricultural yield among certain crops by 24 percent without the use of dangerous chemicals.

The Israeli environmentalists have launched regional cooperation projects to spread the barn owl solution to neighboring agricultural communities. The film suggests that in the Middle East, the “dove has been replaced by the barn owl and the kestrel as the ambassadors of peace.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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