Potteromania accused hundredfold increase in the trade in wild owls

Potteromania accused hundredfold increase in the trade in wild owls

In the last two decades on the Islands of Bali and Java began to sell a lot more owls. Researchers who have studied the dynamics and range of bird markets, blame it on the books by JK Rowling.


The paper was published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation.

The number of owls in the increased sales of a couple of hundred in 2000 to 13,000 in 2016, representing an increase of market share from 0.1% to 1.5%. In this first book about the teenage wizard Harry Potter has been translated into Indonesian in 2000, and the first film was released in 2001. Despite the fact that to prove a direct connection of these events with increasing culling difficult, co-author, researcher, wildlife trade Vincent Nijman from the British Oxford Brookes University, few doubt its existence.

“Thanks to Harry Potter owls as Pets have become the norm,” he says. This is reflected even in the name of the bird: on one of the major Indonesian — Malay — owls are called Burung Hantu, but lately they are called Burung Harry Potter, which means “bird Harry Potter”.

Usually owls are sold at a price in 6-30 dollars apiece, for the most part the local population is not very big price. The most popular bird of the genus scoop (Otus), and the small and threatened populations of new species of this genus continue to find in the country. Also growth of sales contributes to the spread of the Internet: if in 2000 only 2% of the population went online, now it makes for a quarter.

Indonesian laws make it illegal to sell wild animals that are not allocated a certain quota. For owls such quota no, but the government did not take effective steps to stop this business. Also, the authorities do not monitor the owl population, so it is difficult to assess the damage from catching them. Nocturnal these birds also complicates such work. The authors call for the inclusion of owls in the list of protected species of Indonesia, so that buyers are aware that keeping them in captivity is undesirable. Nijman compares them with broken flowers: “They are alive and pretty when you see them on the market, but they are actually already dead.”