Indian Eagle Owl rescued from poacher in Agra

Agra, Aug 20 (IANS) An Indian Eagle Owl was rescued from a poacher near Bodla market, Agra, and released into its natural habitat.

The bird was under the care of wildlife conservation organisation Wildlife SOS and after careful observation was released back into the wild.

A call on the Wildlife SOS 24 hour helpline number (9917190666) alerted the Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Unit to the seizure of a rare owl from Bodla market, Agra. Enraged by the sight of the bird being exploited as a means of duping curious bystanders in the market area, a concerned animal lover immediately reported the incident to the local police authorities on Friday.

Unfortunately the handler fled the scene before the police could take strict action against him, on grounds of illegal possession of a protected wildlife species. Wildlife SOS was notified of the seizure and a two member rescue team was deployed to the location.

The team identified the owl as an Indian Eagle Owl (Bubo bengalensis) also called the rock eagle-owl or Bengal eagle-owl. They are a protected species and are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which regulates the international trade of wildlife species.

Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS said, “The Indian Eagle owl is one of five most traded owl species in the illegal wildlife market making it a target for poachers. They are coveted for their false feather ear tufts which are believed to have mystical properties. Such blind faith has led to exploitation of this unique wildlife species, thus threatening their very existence in the wild.”

“Such incidents confirm that wildlife trade goes on right under our noses in the country. In India, owls are poached for their body parts such as talons, skulls, bones, feathers and blood due to myths and superstitious beliefs tied to them. Hunting and trading of all Indian owl species is banned under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972,” stated Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS and head of the organisation’s Anti-Poaching Unit, Forest Watch.

Baiju Raj M.V., Director of Conservation Projects at Wildlife SOS said, “This particular species inhabit wooded areas, ravines and forest patches and they mainly feeds on rodents, small birds and reptiles. They are quite elusive and bird watchers consider it very a lucky sighting to be able to spot this owl in the wild.” The bird was found to be in good health and has been released back into the wild.

–IANS

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