Whether it’s deforestation from the palm oil industry or pesky poachers, it feels like wild and endangered species have something new threatening their livelihood every day. While there are many organizations who tirelessly champion for them and protect them from danger, unfortunately, poachers and illegal trading is still prevalent in many regions of the world.

While many of these animals aren’t so lucky, one Indian Eagle Owl’s story got a happy ending. Found at Bodla market in Agra India, the bird was used for entertainment purposes  by a poacher to “dupe” customers when they shopped.

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Owl rescued by Wildlife SOS (1)

Soon enough, a concerned citizen saw the situation for what it was – a disgusting act of exploitation – and called in the authorities. However, by the time the police arrived, the handler had already fled. The police informed Wildlife SOS who took the owl in and checked him for signs of illness or abuse. Fortunately, the owl was found to be in good health and was soon released back into the wild.

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Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, describes the Indian Eagle owl as “one of five most traded owl species in the illegal wildlife market making it a target for poachers.” The birds are coveted for their feather ear tufts, talons, skulls, bones, and even their blood – as they allegedly hold mystical powers and are tied to superstitious beliefs. Even though hunting and trading of Indian owl species is banned under the Wildlife Protection act of 1972, that doesn’t deter poachers from seeking them out.

Owl rescued by Wildlife SOS (3)

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While there is still much work to be done when it comes to protecting the lives of wild and endangered animals, there are reasons to be hopeful. Wildlife SOS has been cracking down on poachers and illegal wildlife trading and has even started a rehabilitation program to provide alternative livelihoods to poachers and help them get out of the business – how cool is that? To help protect other animals that are being threatened by poachers, click here.

 All image source: Wildlife SOS