The extensive ways in which owls feature in our country’s mythology, folklore and superstitions surely wouldn’t have escaped anyone! The Indian subcontinent is home to 35 species of owls, and 32 of them are recorded from India . These nocturnal birds of prey are the prime consumers of rodents which makes them extremely beneficial to people.
Owls are protected in our country which means hunting, trade or any other form of utilization is prohibited. Yet this protected status is little known by the general public and therefore owltrade continues. Furthermore, there is little chance of the birds being detected during transportation since captive owls do not generally tend to call or flutter. *Download the owl factsheet*
Illegal trade in owls driven by various superstitions associated with them in India have become the major cause for concern. Owls remain a key target for several tribes connected with bird trade.
The main centres for the illicit trade in owls are located in:
While the exact number of owls traded each year is unknown, their widespread exploitation poses a grave conservation threat! The top five species of owls preferred by traders are Rock Eagle Owl, Brown FishOwl, Dusky Eagle Owl, Collared Scops Owl and Mottled Wood Owl.
According to TRAFFIC’s nationwide study of the bird trade undertaken between1992 and 2008, more than 1000 owls belonging to 13 species were recorded in trade. This is despite most of the trade being clandestine, the owls neither being displayed nor advertised for sale.