With a view to create awareness about owl as a bird and debunk superstitions associated with it, a unique festival was recently held at a village in Pune district of Maharashtra, organisers said on Saturday.
The two-day 'Indian Owl Festival', which was held in the last week of November at Pingori in Purandar taluka, showcased the nocturnal bird in different art forms like paintings, origami, paper quilling, handicraft and wood craft.
"All the art work was done by the students of schools located in the neighbouring villages. So, apart from creating awareness about owls among the young generation, the festival also gave an opportunity to them to express themselves and show their creativity," said Dr Satish Pande, ornithologist and director of Ela Foundation, which had organised the event.
Besides the exhibition, skits and 'keertans' (sermons) based on the theme owl were also performed.
Citing a report by Traffic India, Pande said thousands of owls are either killed or trapped in India for superstitious beliefs and black magic.
"Earlier this week, some owls were rescued in Karnataka. They were meant to be handed over to certain politicians in Telangana, where assembly polls were held on Friday, to be used for bringing misfortune to their opponents. Unfortunately, such incidents keep happening around us even in this age of technological and scientific advancement," he said.
"If owls are to be saved, only research is not going to be enough...reaching out to people and involving them in the conservation work is equally important," Pande said.
He said owls were friends of farmers, who play a significant role in biological control of crop pests.
"Ninety per cent of their food is rodents, which are harmful for agriculture," he said.
Pande said, the owl festival was a precursor to the World Owl Conference that the foundation will host in Pune next year.
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