ASIA — Conservationists in the U.K. are crying fowl over the rise in wild caught owls being sold across Asia as pets, and are pointing the finger at fans of Harry Potter.
This week, researchers at Oxford Brookes University published a paper in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation, detailing the extent to which bird markets in Indonesia are now illegally trafficking an estimated 13,000 wild caught owls. When the first Harry Potter movie came out in 2001, the sight of owls for sale was rare, but at only $10-$30, middle-class families now seem to think the birds would make for nice pets. Unfortunately, that logic is sorely misguided, as birds of prey removed from the wild don't last long in the captivity of birdcages.
This damaging owl fascination has also been observed in India, where owls are often reportedly killed to be used for supposed medicinal purposes. With several species of owls being ripped from nature and thereby devastating local ecosystems, the researchers are urging owls be added to Indonesia's list of protected bird species.
According to The Guardian, famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is on record as saying "The owls in Harry Potter books were never intended to portray the true behaviour or preferences of real owls" and that people should not mistake them for house pets.