Blame Harry Potter for All Your Missing Owls, India

November 3, 2010

hedwig-harry-potter.jpg

Curious where all your wild owls have been lately, India? Check out the arms of your urban, middle-class Harry Potter fans, apparently.

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is calling for tougher measures to protect India's wild owl population, telling the BBC, "Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls."

Abrar Ahmed, an ornithologist and member of the conservation group Traffic, claims a friend had even asked him to capture a white, Harry Potter-ish owl, and asserts in a recent paper that a more and more owls are being "trapped, traded or killed in black magic rituals," which might end up being a spoiler for those of you who haven't finished the series.

Of course, the report goes on to note, "black magic practitioners ... prescribe the use of owls and their body parts such as skull, feathers, ear tuffs, claws, heart, liver, kidney, blood, eyes, fat, beak, tears, eggshells, meat and bones for ceremonial pujas and rituals," adding that, "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." So maybe it's not so much Harry Potter after all. Yeah, that sounds more like the influence of Hari Puttar to me.

(Thanks, Dan.)

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