New Delhi: While the nation is engulfed in Diwali celebrations, forest departments across the country are taking precautions to prevent poaching of wildlife.
Both owls and turtles are in high demand during this time of year for black magic purposes.
Driven by superstitious beliefs and religious myths Owls are the most sought for their body parts such as talons, skulls, bones, feathers, meat, and blood by occultists.
As the owl is Goddess Lakshmi's vahan (Vehicle) its believes that keeping its body parts bring prosperity, power, and long life in the household as the Goddess of wealth can not leave. So in some special practices, a ritual of owls is performed to please the goddess.
Similarly, Turtles are used as exotic pets, and since it is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, it is also believed to bring good luck and fortune.
In Uttarakhand, the forest department saw a red alert at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) so they canceled holidays of its field staff until 15 November and increased patrolling in the reserve, especially at night.
Divisional forest officer M Semmaran, said," We have formed teams to keep a strict vigil on poachers. Poachers become active during Diwali and catch Owl and tortoise. Some people perform "tantric kriyas" with Owl parts." The department has set up 11 teams to keep poachers at bay.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Uttarakhand is a hub of illegal owl trade along with Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand.
According to experts, owls, classified under least concern species in the IUCN list, thus need urgent protection from anti-social elements.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, protects all owl species in India and makes their capture and trade illegal.
According to Ela Foundation Director, Dr. Satish Pande who works towards the conservation and protection of birds in 2018 over 17,000 owls were killed in India under the guise of black magic.
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