There is a very wide variety of owls in Asia, with the region playing host to a large number of species. Additionally, several new species have been identified there in the last 20 years, including the Serendib scops owl in Sri Lanka and the Little Sumba hawk owl in Indonesia.
Owls have great cultural significance in Asia. In Japanese culture some owls are seen as divine messengers while others, particularly Barn or Horned owls, are viewed as demons. In India a white owl is considered a companion and a form of Laksmi, the goddess of wealth, and is therefore an omen of prosperity and good fortune. But owls can also represent wisdom or, paradoxically, foolishness.
In the Middle East owls have been connected with evil spirits for centuries and are still treated warily because of a perceived ferocity of appearance. In Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, owls are known as ‘ghost birds’.
Asian owls face many challenging conservation issues including habitat destruction from forest fragmentation, and a forestry technique called clearcutting, as well as ingestion of pesticides. The problem is compounded by an insufficient knowledge of owl populations to allow assessment of the impact of such issues on them.
Here are the Asian owls we have at the sanctuary, click on an owl to learn more: