Owl trafficking racket busted in Karnataka, accused absconding

Officials rescued three juvenile Indian Eagle-Owls.
Owl trafficking racket busted in Karnataka, accused absconding
Owl trafficking racket busted in Karnataka, accused absconding
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The forest department in Belagavi exposed an owl trafficking racket on Monday evening. 

The District Forest Police mobile squad raided a house in Vannur village of Bailhongal taluk and rescued three juvenile Indian Eagle-Owls from a cage on Monday evening, TNIE reported. 

The house belonged to a man named Chandrappa Mallappa Mirji, who is absconding.

According to an official with the Forest Department, Mirji has been allegedly involved in illegal trade of endangered species of owls for more than two years. 

“These owls are said to be used for black magic practices. Depending upon the size of these owls, they sell for as high as Rs 50 lakh per owl. We are trying to find Mirji and see how deep the racket runs,” the official added.

According to the official, Mirji used to venture into forests and trap owlets. He would nurture them and ensure that they are healthy before selling them off at extremely high prices.

“He has connections in Goa, where people have been buying from him regularly. He is extremely secretive and it is difficult to nab him as we haven’t identified him yet,” the official added.

The police team, led by sub-inspector K S Kocheri, have launched a search operation to arrest Mirji.

“We are sure to crack an illegal wildlife trafficking racket upon his arrest. The recovered owls have been handed over to Assistant Conservator of Forests of Belagavi,” the official added.

On December 18, 2016, the Forest Department busted a five-year owl trafficking racket in Shivamogga district's Sorab taluk, and nine people were arrested by Forest Department officials.

The owls were being purchased at Rs 4-5 lakh from the locals and were being sold to a few people performing black magic at Rs 30-40 lakh per owl.

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