Warning of a possible increase in illegal owl trade and sacrifices around Diwali, Traffic India, an organisation that studies wildlife trade, yesterday urged law enforcement agencies to step up efforts to check the perpetrators.
On Diwali, to be celebrated November 13 this year, owls are sacrificed and their body parts used in ceremonial ‘pujas’ and rituals by black magic practitioners or ‘tantriks’.
Though hunting and trade in all the owl species in the country is banned under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, hundreds of owls are trapped and traded every year as superstition associates owl with Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Owl species most highly sought after by traders are large species, particularly those with false “ear-tufts” (feather extensions on the head) as these are considered to have the greatest magical properties,” said Traffic India’s Abrar Ahmed, an expert on the Indian bird trade.
The organisation urged the enforcement officers from forest departments, railways, customs and police to strictly monitor and control the illegal bird trade through regular raids and taking legal action against the culprits.