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As owls face occult threat on Diwali, Uttarakhand officials step up vigil

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    14th Nov, 2020


  • Every year around Deepawali, these shy, mostly nocturnal birds of prey are trapped and hunted in large numbers.

Key Highlights

  • In Uttarakhand, whose forests are home to many of the more than two dozen species of owl found in India.
  • The Forest Department has sounded a statewide alert and officials have increased their vigil to try and foil poachers.

Why they are sacrificed?

  • Occultists perform certain rituals with owls on Diwali, as tantriks, sorcerers, and practitioners of black magic use them in occult sacrifice.
  • They also sacrifice the bird to appease Goddess Lakshmi, with the superstition that this would bring them wealth and prosperity
  • Occultists also extract bones, claws, and feathers of owls and sell them illegally.

Major threats

  • Human persecution is possibly among the principal threats.
  • The cases of capturing owls for home rearing or stuffing are numerous.
  • Insufficient state control over the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture.
  • The encroachment of hunting grounds for agricultural purposes.

Conservation measures

  • Many of the species of owl Listed in Appendix II of the CITES and in Appendix II of the Berne Convention.

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