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February 14, 2018

Three Indian owls rescued from wildlife trafficking racket

Owls found in pitiful condition and with injuries; nefarious activities suspected

Humane Society International/India

  • The capture and trade of owls is illegal. HSI

  • Rescued just in time. HSI

BANGALORE, India—Karnataka Forest Department’s Chikkaballapur Division Officers, under the direction of DCF Dr. Manjunath I.F.S, rescued three Indian eagle-owls (Bubo bengalensis) from traffickers of the Hakki-pikki tribe about six kilometres from Chintamani town. It is suspected the animals were to be sold for meat or black magic activities. HSI India assisted in the rescue.

The birds, also known as rock eagle owls, were extremely dehydrated and had injuries from being captured and kept in inhumane conditions. All three have since been sent to a wildlife rehabilitation facility for further treatment and eventual release.

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Wildlife trafficking activities have been on the rise in India, with an increased demand for live animals and their parts. The Karnataka Forest Department has collaborated with HSI/India and other organizations to crack down on this activity. While India has the legal and policy framework to regulate and restrict the wildlife trade, it lacks the staff capacity to monitor sufficiently.

Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India, who assisted the team, said, “These owls are classified under Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, a regulation that has no teeth when it comes to enforcing or punishing these kinds of crimes. The weak regulation, combined with the misconceptions about the use of owls in black magic and other occult practices, does nothing to deter people from this trade. The swift action taken by the Karnataka Forest Department in this case is sure to deal a mighty blow to the accused and others who intend to follow suit. We applaud the department officials and hope this kind of proactive approach towards curbing wildlife crime in the state continues.”

Trade in live owls in India is a notoriously popular activity. In December 2017, Karnataka Forest Department rescued two owls from wildlife traffickers near Doddaballapura on the outskirts of Bangalore. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, protects all owl species in India and makes their capture and trade illegal. While the punishment is lower as compared to other schedule species, it nevertheless implies that hunting of and trade in all Indian owl species is banned under the Act. Support our life-saving work.

Media Contact: Vidhi Malla: +919560103078, vidhimalla@gmail.com

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