A small town in Indonesia has given owls their traditional job of pest control back - rejecting a growing trend in selling owls or 'Harry Potter Birds' as many call them. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT. NO REPORTER NARRATION. Since 2011, 50-year-old Pujo Arto, who lives in the small Indonesian farming village of Tlogoweruhas has released almost 2,000 common barn owls part of his Natural Predator Programme, which drafts the mystical birds to combat the menace of rodent pests, like rats, causing damage to crops. Thanks to Arto's initiative, Tlogoweru village is now a popular destination for local ecotourists looking to learn about the importance of maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Arto came up with the program as the village's farmers grew increasingly stuck as to how to rid their fields of pests. They had tried smoking them out and hunting them, but nothing seemed to work. The last resort could have been using pesticides, but villagers were reluctant to try as they were worried chemicals would cause long-term damage to the local environment. Common barn owls, due to their size and diet, were therefore most suited for the job. Owls are not listed on any wildlife protection list, making trade in the birds technically legal. Conservationists say this has allowed them to be exploited at an increasingly alarming rate. In local markets, the number of owls on sale has increased considerably over recent years. Researchers and conservationists have pointed to the world-famous Harry Potter books for this, for the popular pet snowy owl 'Hedwig' charmed the country to the point owls are now referred to as 'Harry Potter Birds'.