Is Harry Potter Responsible for the Decline of Owls in India?
As weird as this may sound, in India the answer to this question may well be “yes” or at least, partly “yes.”
The influence of the phenomenon known as Harry Potter has left its far reaching mark on impressionable children inspired by the child wizard’s example to own an owl of their own so they can be more like the child wizard they so admire.
In the story, owls are messengers and the child wizard has his own snowy owl named Hedwig, who has a fan base all her own and is depicted as a clever, devoted and loving animal.
A report by a wildlife group has indicated that there has been a sharp decline in India’s owl population, which may or may not be related to the popularity of the bespectacled adolescent wizard.
“There seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls. There is an increase in people looking to purchase owls from illegal traders. These birds are being trapped and traded….,” says Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh.
Harry Potter may be part of the problem, but there are other contributing issues that have relegated owls to a highly endangered species status in modern India.
Due to the fact that owls are believed to have mystical powers, they are trapped, traded and used in ceremonial sacrifices during a festival known as Diwali.
Wildlife activists are campaigning to convince Indian children who wish to emulate their hero, Harry, to go bird watching instead of trapping the animals.
Harry Potter is beloved both by children and adults alike in India, but not by the owls who have their own agenda and…their own heroes.