The rescued barn owl with a broken wing
The rescued barn owl with a broken wing

Indore: Just a few days after International Owl Awareness Day, which is celebrated on August 4 every year, a majestic barn owl was found injured in Rudy village, Khandwa. The owl was rescued by wildlife activist Rohitashwa Pandey citing the poor creature struggling to move about.

Brought to the forest ranger office and treated temporarily on Saturday, the protected owl was saved from being killed for its parts. Barn owls are protected under the Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act.

“The owl’s wing was cut and hence, he could not fly at all,” Pandey said. Based on the preliminary condition and analysis of the owl, it is more likely injured by a human for hunting or poaching.

“Barn owls can be easily distinguished by their round face and shade of grey or brown at back,” Pandey said. He added that owls are commonly found in Khandwa forest and are essential as prime consumers of rodents such as mice and rats, owls can be very beneficial to humans.

“Use of owls in black magic and sorcery linked with superstition, totems, and taboos drives the illegal trade of owls in India. Shaman or black magic practitioners, frequently referred to as tantrics in India, prescribe the use of parts from live owls such as skull, feathers, ear tufts, claws, heart, liver, kidney, blood, eyes, fat, beak, tears, eggshells, meat, and bones for ceremonial pujas and rituals,” says the factsheet issued by TRAFFIC India Office’s investigation.

Further, as per the report, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are the main owl trading centres in India followed by West Bengal/Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan/Bihar.

India has 30 recorded species of owls. Out of which, 15 species are illegally traded for their body parts.

The 15 species include Spotted Owlet, Barn Owl, Rock-Eagle Owl, Jungle Owlet, Collared Scops-owl, Brown Fish-owl, Dusky Eagle-owl, Mottled Wood-owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Collared Owlet, Brown Wood-owl, Oriental Scops-owl, Spot-bellied Eagle-owl, Tawny Fish-owl and the Eastern Grass-owl.

Owl’s treatment

The rescued owl has a good chance of survival, but he needs proper treatment as shared by Forest CCF (Chief Conservator of Forest) said. He added that as of now, the owl has been given first aid and basic treatment by local veterinarian.

“As per doctor’s advice, we will keep the owl in range office for a couple of days to see its recovery, otherwise we will have to send him to Indore city zoo,” the officer said. He added that owl’s broken wing is less likely due to any natural causes, which is a cause to worry.

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