Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Information and Media; Environmental Science and Policy @Michigan State University

Independent journalist -

Environment, Science, International

GRP nabs two for smuggling rare owl


KANPUR: A great horned owl (bubo virginianus) was rescued from captivity from Etawah Railway station by the GRP sleuths here on Monday. The bird was later handed over to wildlife authorities. 

The breakthrough came while GRP Etawah personnel were on a routine check at Etawah railway station on Monday. They came across two suspicious-looking persons. On conducting a thorough search, the GRP sleuths recovered a bag containing a great horned owl from the two, identified as Ram Pal, son of Malkhan Singh of Eraho village in Kannauj, and Ishwar Singh, son of Brijendra Singh, a native of Jamalpur village under Noorpur police station limits in Bijnaur district. 

According to GRP, the accused revealed that they were on their way to Bijnor district to deliver the owl to a person, who is into black magic and would have used the bird for witchcraft, near Diwali. They had trapped the bird from Paurikh village in Kannauj district. According to the Wildlife Preservation Act of 1972 and 1992, the handling of wild birds and keeping them in captivity is illegal and hence, the duo was charged for the offense. "These birds are commonly found in India and Pakistan, in deciduous or secondary woodland areas. They can even be sighted near villages. The protection of these birds comes under Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, (as amended up to 1993)," said Dr Rajiv Chauhan, secretary, Society for Conservation of Nature. 

A rare bird to be sighted, this species of owls is primarily nocturnal. According to Chauhan, two pairs (four owls) were rescued by the Etawah police in 2008 also. 

A GRP official said, "The accused during interrogation revealed that the owls can fetch a good amount ranging from Rs 80,000 upto Rs 1 lakh for a pair of bird. This bird was in a healthy condition and has been handed over to wildlife personnel, who would later release the bird into its natural habitat." 

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