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In acts of black magic, protected animals paying highest price

Poornima Nataraj, Bangalore, Dec 24, 2013, DHNS : 23:03 IST

Slender loris, barn owls not immune to inhumane practices

Innocent victim A Slender loris, rescued from Black Magic practioneers, is under treatment at Bannerghatta. DH photo
The use of animals and birds, whether endangered or not, by black magic practitioners continues to thrive in the City.

But what is appalling is that even primates such as the Slender loris, which is a Schedule I animal according to Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, are being used in black magic rituals — superstitious practices which often leave them maimed, injured or grievously close to death. In theory, the animals enjoy the full protection of the law and the abuse of Schedule I animals can attract the highest penalties.

But according to sources, these protections are being flouted. In recent times, a dozen Slender lorises, used in black magic, were rescued from in and around the City. The Bannerghatta Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (BRRC) received six rescued Slender lorises, and vets there have managed to save the lives of three. Another group, the People for Animals (PFA), in Kengeri, have rescued a total of six lorises. This year alone, three such animals were rescued — one each in April, May and June. Vinay, the rehabilitator from PFA says that all the three had either one forelimb or hind limb injured in a peculiar manner. Rescuers found them near Shivajinagar, Jayamahal and Hebbal.

According to Dr Roopa Satish, a wildlife vet at the BRRC, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location from where many of the injured lorises were found. The centre was initially bewildered by the nature of the horrific injuries suffered by these creatures. “Initially, it was strange to find them with only one eye or one limb, burn wounds and other injuries,” she said. Only later did the pieces fall together. “It was only later that we found these animals are the survivors of black magic practices,” she said. “These animals are so brutalized that it is likely that the only the strong survived.”

Narrating the plight of these animals, Satish pointed out the example of one loris which had suffered major injuries to its left forelimb, leaving it stiff and rotting. When the limb was amputated, the loris recovered. “Later, it befriended another loris in the rehab centre and the two loris were released into the forest together. Since the amputated loris had a friend for help, we were sure they would survive,” she said.

Other animals

In addition to lorises, barn owls and sometimes even kites are used in black magic. Satish explained that the lorises and owls are easy prey for miscreants because they are nocturnal animals and are easily trapped by day. “Once they are caught, they are taken to a black magician who harms the animal by poking the eye or limb, burning their limbs and sometimes even damaging the internal organs. Often these animals are left to die,” Satish explained.

According to Sindhu Radhakrishna, associate professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Slender lorises are found only in South India and Sri Lanka and are slowly losing their habitat to the urban development. “According to some native folk medicine practioneers, it is believed that the animal’s meat cures asthma, although there is no scientific basis to justify this,” she added.

Similarly, barn owls are also tortured, their feet injured, or wings cut off. The feather of the owls are an important ingredient in black magic. “They are also consumed as food by a section of society,” a wildlife activist added.

Sometimes, Barn owls have been found with white paint stuck to them. “It must be a kind of glue which people put on branches to help catch the birds,” Satish said and added that the kites are also not spared, as there many recuperating at the rehab centre.

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