Are Harry Potter Fans Killing India’s Owls?

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REUTERS/Fred Prouser

India has a problem, an owl problem, and the government is blaming Harry Potter.

Following a report released by conservation group Traffic this week, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh blamed fans of the Harry Potter series for the dwindling number of wild owls.

The author of the report, Abrar Ahmed, started to investigate the owl trade after being asked to get a white owl for a boy’s Harry Potter-themed birthday party.

(See our exclusive photos: The Harry Potter theme park)

“Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls,” Ramesh told the BBC.

The report highlights the killing of owls in “black magic and sorcery driven by superstition, totems and taboos” and states that half of India’s 30 owl species are caught and sold alive in markets.

The report also warns of a possible increase in owl sacrifices around Diwali, Hindu festival of lights, which starts on Friday.

Regardless of whether the owl crisis is inspired by Harry Potter, we’re pretty sure Hedwig would not approve. (via BBC)

(See Harry Potter and the Nervous Pope)