Did Harry Potter Cause an Increase in Owl Trade in Indonesia?

Illegal owl trade has been on the rise in Indonesia over the past couple of years. Could Harry Potter be the reason for it? Some experts say that there is a relationship between the release of Harry Potter as well as the increase in trade of owls.

Owls were not really as popular throughout the 1980s, 1990s and even up until the mid 2000s. However, the bird market has seen an exponential spike in the trade of owls after that which made owls are household name in the Indonesian bird market.

In this article, we would go deeper as to the increase of illegal owl trade in Indonesia. For more articles like this, click here.

According to a recent study, there has been a sharp increase of owls being sold in Indonesia after 2007 which has spiked and maintained popularity till today. Many of these owls were sold off as pets because of the Owls that were able to deliver mail on the widely popular Harry Potter novel and movie series.   For example, in the Malay language (Which is one of Indonesia’s languages, some people refer to owls as ‘Burung Harry Potter’ which could be loosely translated to ‘Harry Potter Birds’. According to Mongabay, a study suggested that in the areas of Java and Bali, there were at least 12,000 Scoop owls being sold in their markets each year.

Is the increase in the sale of owls as pets in Indonesia caused by Harry Potter?

The trade of owls in Indonesia is not just illegal, but the current laws and regulations make it difficult to protect these birds. before 2001, owls only occupied 0.1 percent of the  Bird Market in several regions around the world.Another country that was pointed out by scientists  was India, which also appears to face the same issue of owls being sold illegally as pets due to the popularity of Harry Potter.  However, as of 2016, the figures have spiked in my markets around the globe to close to 1.5 percent, including Indonesia. Currently, owls can be bought in Indonesia for prices between 60,000 Rupiah to about 300,000 Rupiah, making it rather affordable for the middle class of Indonesia to buy them as pets.

What worries many is not the sale of owls per se,  but how many of them were actually caught from the wild, making their trade illegal. The current issue right now is that that the local authorities do not keep track of the owl population, thus making it hard to estimate if the population of owls are affected when they are being caught and sold off as pets. Furthermore, as these animals are nocturnal, it becomes harder to estimate.

It is important to keep note that animals sold in Indonesia has to be approved by the local government first

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