Karnataka Forest Department’s Bangalore Rural Division along with animal protection organizations Humane Society International/India and TRAFFIC India coordinated a joint rescue operation to save two owls from traffickers near Doddaballapura, on the outskirts of Bangalore. Wildlife trafficking activities spike during Diwali as demand for live animals and their parts during the festivities drive the illegal trade. The Karnataka Forest Department is collaborating with HSI/India and other organizations to crack down on this activity.
The Bangalore Rural Division, directed by Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr Natesh I.F.S, led the raid that led to the discovery and rescue of the owls. The accused traffickers told authorities that they had captured the owls the week prior and were intending to sell the animals to black magic practitioners or for meat.
Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India, who was part of the rescue team, said, “The owls were in poor physical condition. They were severely dehydrated and their legs were tied tight using a nylon rope. We are grateful to Mr Natesh I.F.S for acting on this information on top priority. We hope rescue will only lead to a stronger collaboration with the Forest Department to protect these animals from the illegal wildlife trade.”
Trade in live owls in India is notoriously popular affair, especially during Diwali when many people sacrifice owls based on unfounded beliefs. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 protects all owl species in India and makes their capture and trade illegal.
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