Harry Potter Blamed for India’s Illegal Owl Trade

Is the world’s most famous boy-wizard responsible for a major wildlife trafficking crisis in India?  That’s the story running in the news media this weekend after Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh commented on a new report out by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. But according to the report, poaching for black magic rituals that have nothing to do with J.K. Rowling’s popular series is the biggest threat to India’s wild owls. 

Report author and ornithologist Abrar Ahmed relates an anecdote in the preface about being asked to provide a snowy owl for a Harry Potter-themed birthday party.  The inquiry was part of the inspiration for writing the comprehensive report on the plight of India’s owls. Unfortunately, many major news outlets don’t seem to have read any further into the report.

“The TRAFFIC investigation also finds that besides black magic, owls are trapped and traded for use in street performances; killed for taxidermy and for their meat; their parts are used in folk medicines; even their claws and feathers are sometimes used in headgear. Live owls are also used as decoys to catch other bird species.” The author details some of the inhumane practices employed in trapping and transport before the poor creatures meet their end, sometimes in ritual ceremonies during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which started Friday.

Mr. Ramesh attended the launch of the report, “Imperilled Custodians of the Night,” and also said the following: “Owls are as important to our ecosystem as the Tigers or any other better known charismatic species. It is important that the threat to owls is brought to light during the festival of Diwali and concrete ground action is undertaken to curb such trade,” according to the TRAFFIC web site.

The owl report, which was sponsored by WWF and the Rufford Foundation, recommends much stricter enforcement of India’s existing wildlife capture and trade laws, rehabilitation of recovered owls, and public education to reduce demand.

Take Action

First, pledge not to buy exotic animals as pets. Abandoned pet owls are a trend that sanctuaries in the UK would like to stop, but owls aren’t the only exotic animal that makes a terrible pet. Wild animals belong in the wild.

Then, support policies that address trade in wild animals such as this one to extend the international ivory ban and this one to outlaw primates as pets in the United States.

Hedwig-like snowy owl photo by flickr user pbonenfant /CC 2.0

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Savio A.
Past Member 2 years ago

* A CALL FOR HELP* a friend has found an owl and we would like to make sure it can be tended and care for then released back to the wild, Do you know anybody who can help with it's rehabilitation in mumbai, India??

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U.3 years ago

infantilistic dumb and low are persons must have owls as pet.
how poor is that all.

Dale Overall

Get a grip! A book does not an illicit trade make! Greedy people are involved in trafficking here, be it birds, animals or blood diamonds!

If people are pursued by reading a book to run out and "own" a wild animal it is their priorities that are in question not an author's. Get a pet rock instead....What next, banning all books dealing with birds, animals, insects...authors only to write about lettuce and broccoli?

Dee M.
Dee M.3 years ago

as usual the stupid humans just need someone to blame. and just like the Christians of old they will blame anyone that dares to like magick.

Jutta N.
Past Member 3 years ago

Give me a break. It's just a book. It have nothing to do with owl illegal trading...

colleen prinssen
colleen p.4 years ago

Oh India, silly silly. maybe we can make fake owl meat to sell to them, for gold and sell them fake owls for their majik.

but that is wrong. like selling moutain dew and calling it holy water.

Jami Winn
Jami Winn4 years ago

what the hell does harry potter have to do with human stupidity

Angelica P.
Angelica P.4 years ago

How can people be so ignorant? Blaming a fictional character of a book? Oh, please!

Ellen Richardson
Ellen Richardson5 years ago

May the Creator protect all wild species from our greedy human species. The international pet trade is a holocaust for wild creatures. TOO MANY HUMANS IN THIS PLANET ...FAR TOO MANY.

Mom A.
Red S.5 years ago

In my opinion Harry Potter is to blame for a lot of things...GROW UP HARRY!!