Owls dwindle, Jairam upset with Harry Potter fans

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Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi/London, Nov 3: While research found that illegal trade and superstitious beliefs have caused Indian owl population to dwindle, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is upset with Harry Potter and his fans.

Speaking at the launch of a report on India's owl population, Mr Ramesh blamed Harry Potter and his popularity for India's dwindling owl population.

He claimed that Potter's featured friend Hedwig was popular in India, which was leading to an increase in people wanting to buy owls from illegal bird traders, according to a BBC report.

"Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls," Mr Ramesh is quoted as saying.

The Owl Report

The report written by a leading conservation group, Traffic is titled 'Imperilled Custodians of the Night'. This report calls for tougher measures to protect owls ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which starts on Friday, Nov 5, noting that thousands of owls are traditionally sacrificed on "auspicious" occasions.

Abrar Ahmed, the author of the report, decided to investigate the owl trade after being asked by a friend to procure a live white-coloured owl for her son's Harry Potter-themed 10th birthday party, the report published on Tuesday, Nov 2 said.

"This was probably one of the strangest demands made to me as an ornithologist," he wrote.

According to the report, owls, a highly endangered species in India, are now being trapped, traded or killed in black magic rituals. While half of India's 30 species of owls are caught and sold alive in markets, others were killed for medicinal purposes.

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