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'Harry Potter' Inspires Owl Kidnappings In India

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Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has a declining owl population on his hands — and he’s pointing his finger squarely at the Harry Potter franchise.

“Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls,” Ramesh said Wednesday, according to comments reported by the BBC.

The films and book, like elsewhere around the world, have been a massive hit in the country — and parents have gone about capturing wild owls and presenting them as gifts to children. According to AFP, researchers also discovered that the birds were being traded or killed for the purpose of black magic rituals connected to the Hindu celebration of Diwali.

Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, begins on Nov. 5.

“Diwali should be a time for celebration across our nation, not one when our wildlife is plundered to feed ignorant superstition,” Ramesh added in comments.

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