Three men arrested for selling protected owls

January 3rd, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Wayanad (Kerala), Jan 3 (IANS) Three men have been arrested for allegedly selling six specimens of a protected species of barn owls near here.”One man was arrested early Dec 25 while the other two were trapped when they were trying to sell six juvenile owls. The arrested man had informed about the trading of owls by the other two men,” Forest Range officer G. Pradeep told IANS.

He said a tribal man, who had caught and handed over the owls to the three men, is yet to be arrested.

“This variety of owl comes under Schedule 4 and smuggling it is an offence for which one can get up to three years’ imprisonment,” Pradeep added.

There are about three dozen owl species common in the Western Ghats forests of Kerala. Of these, 11 species were caught illegally and smuggled to Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh last year to be sold as pets, forest department officials said. They added that an owl could fetch as much as Rs.800,000.

There is a a well-established smuggling chain, starting from those who trap the owls, pass them on to others and sell them to customers in north India, the officials added.

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