“Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls,” said Jairam Ramesh.
His warnings came as a new report on the illegal trade of the endangered birds was released by Traffic, an organization working to protect them.
The report also says that the practice of sacrificing owls and using their body parts in ceremonial rituals on auspicious occasions is also fueling the illicit trade.
While owls are supposed to be protected in India, the report warns that nearly half of the country’s species can be found on sale in markets.
Traffic warned of likely owl sacrifices around Diwali, the festival of lights, which started on November 5.
“Diwali should be a time for celebration across our nation, not one when our wildlife is plundered to feed ignorant superstition,” Ramesh said.
Photo: J.M.Garg - Wikimedia Commons