Agra, March 14 (IANS) Illegal trade in owls was exposed in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh when a nature photographer tipped-off the Wildlife SOS NGO after spying a group of men with a bag containing an owlet.
Photographer Ankush Dave said: "I have been observing the owls in Patholi village for months, and keeping a close eye on the newborn birds. I saw a group of suspicious men roaming around the area with a bag in hand and decided to question them. They confessed to have taken an owl, and I immediately contacted Wildlife SOS."
Wildlife SOS is an NGO working to save the wildlife.
A team from the NGO rescue centre immediately rushed to the site and seized a juvenile dusky eagle owl from smugglers who had planned to trade the bird for medicinal and tantrik (occult) purposes, Dave said.
The smugglers had trimmed off the owl's talons and the bird was now under observation at the Wildlife SOS rescue facility, he said.
Sakir, a member of the Wildlife SOS rescue unit, said: "The group refused to hand over the owl to us even when we warned them they would be handed over to the police. It was only after we alerted the district magistrate that the men handed over the bird to us."
"Such incidents confirm that wildlife trade goes on right under our nose. In India, owls are poached for their body parts such as talons, skulls, bones and blood due to religious myths and superstitious beliefs tied to them. Hunting and trading of owls is banned under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972," Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS and head of the NGO's anti-poaching unit, Forest Watch, said. (IANS)