Realising that there was a rapid decline in owl numbers and that owls had become one of the most common wildlife casualties brought into veterinary practices, Brendan Murray and his wife, Danelle, decided fifteen years ago, to focus all their efforts on conserving them. The organisation they founded, Owl Rescue Centre, is based at Hartbeespoort in the North West Province, and now takes in more than a thousand owls every year through their rescue efforts. The owls are rehabilitated and when they can survive on their own in the wild, are released in the sanctuary – a farm which is located within a 12,000-hectare conservancy.
Owl Rescue Centre is a registered Non-profit company and permitted rehabilitation facility concerned with the well-being of all owl species and wildlife in Southern Africa.
Owl Rescue Centre is dedicated to protect owls, rescue owls that are in danger and rehabilitate and care for owls that have been injured, are sick, poisoned or orphaned and then release them back into their natural environment using specifically researched release methods. We are also involved in several conservation projects to decrease the high mortality rate of owl species.
Owl Rescue Centre’s vision is that through increased understanding of the owl's true character, the fears and misgivings that often surround peoples' perceptions of owls will be replaced by tolerance and respect for these unique birds.
We follow a philosophy of minimal human interference to nature’s natural means. We nurture owls when they need us, but we allow them to stay wild and return to their natural habitat when they no longer require our assistance.
Most owl species hunt and are active at night and are seldom observed by humans. Because of this nocturnal (night-time) existence, they are little known and often misunderstood, even though some owls live their entire lives in close proximity to man.
Owl Rescue Centre creates awareness among communities helping them to understand that owls share our natural habitat and play an important role in the ecological system. The education is aimed to give insight to the misperceptions people have about owls and to inform them that owls pose no threat to human beings. Owl Rescue Centre’s education is based on the principle of respect for all living creatures, no matter how big or small, they each serve a purpose in our interconnected and interdependent existence.
When Brendan and Danelle aquired the farm now known as the Owl Sanctuary, their dream was to secure a place for the owls where they would be protected and looked after, a piece of habitat that would always belong to them.
The Sanctuary is the only one of its kind in the world. Owls can be observed visiting the various feeding platforms around the Sanctuary every single night. Many have taken up residency in the Owl Houses erected on the farm, where they breed year after year.
Brendan and Danelle, following a life-long passion for the protection of wildlife, are committed to the conservation of vulnerable species and have dedicated their lives to the cause.
Brendan Patrick Murray spent most of his young life observing and studying birds. He came to the realization many years ago that owls specifically need help to protect them from becoming endangered, and so Owl Rescue Centre was born. Brendan has been involved in wildlife conservation for more than 30 years. He started his initial field studies in the Okavango Delta in Northern Botswana where he researched several species of birds of prey, studying their hunting and breeding behaviour, their habitat and possible threats to their conservation. Since then, Brendan has succesfully rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of different species of wildlife and is internationally renowned as a specialist in his field and one of the most knowlegable persons on owl conservation in the world.
Danelle Murray holds a degree in Psychology through the University of South Africa. Her background and studies in Psychology has been beneficial to her, in her interest in wildlife and biodiversity where she applies methods such as classical conditioning, desensitization and research methodology in her daily work with different animals. She has been actively involved in the protection, rescue, rehabilitation, release and research of wild animals for over a decade. She is also a Non-fiction writer and author. Numerous articles of hers, on the topic of owls, have been published in various magazines and newspapers. Her memoir, My Dark Country published by Arcanum Press tells the story of the family's dedication to saving owls.
“Saving owls gives my life a distinct purpose and meaning; I will always consider it a great privilege.”
My Dark Country is available through selected bookshops, Amazon, Kindle or through direct purchase from Owl Rescue Centre. For order queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brendan and Danelle’s work in conservation has earned them international acclaim and they have recently been appointed as members of the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) and SSC (Species Survival Commission).
In September 2019, Owl Rescue Centre was asked to rewild, release and post release monitor a four year old Cape clawless otter called Lazarus, who had been rescued as a pup but remained in captivity until the Murrays’ intervention. In May 2021 they launched the book Return to the Wild, depicting the story of the otter's release.
Read the inspiring story of a family's dedication to setting a captive otter free.
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