Is 'Harry Potter' bad news for owls in India? |

Books | Shelf Life

Is 'Harry Potter' bad news for owls in India?


hedwigImage Credit: Everett CollectionAccording to a BBC report, Harry Potter might be partly responsible for India’s endangered owl population. Quick clarification: Nobody’s accusing the boy wizard of zipping around South Asia on a broomstick, smiting birds with his wand… yet. But according to a respected wildlife trade watchdog group, Harry’s pet owl Hedwig has turned the birds into a popular pet for Indian children, leading to a spike in illegal capture and sales of the animals.

This is hardly the first time Harry’s had a finger wagged at him: J.K. Rowling’s books have been accused of inspiring everything from tension headaches to teenage drinking. And to be fair, Indian officials aren’t so much blaming Potter as they are pointing out a link between the books and the rising fad of owl pets in their country. But what’s a wizard to do in a situation like this? Release a magical PSA in which a concerned-looking Hedwig (no makeup, feathers down, very non-profit chic) calls for an end to owl capture? Send flocks of Hogwarts-educated owls to repopulate the Indian forests? If anyone has any better ideas, please leave them in the comments. And in the meantime, head over to the Traffic website to find out what you can do to help end illegal animal trading.