Religion & Beliefs

Some people might find it hard to believe that birds of prey still figure in religion and beliefs, but it wasn’t actually that long ago when, in Wales, if a pregnant woman heard an owl then her child would be blessed, or, in Yorkshire, owl broth cured whooping cough. Luckily, these beliefs have faded into folklore but in a lot of countries beliefs like this are still common practice.

Muti in Africa use vulture parts for medicinal reasons.  It is believed that smoking dried vulture brain can help with exams or betting on the correct horse.  Sleeping with a vulture’s head is thought to give a greater insight into the future.   Worryingly, these sort of beliefs are still having a big impact on vulture populations in Southern Africa.  In 2010 TRAFFIC carried out an investigation into the illicit trade of owls in India for Black Magic and sorcery.  The report makes depressing reading but it provides an insight into how some cultures still work.  You can see more at the link below.

Owls with “ears” are thought to possess the greatest magical powers, so birds like this owlet are given false decorations © Abrar Ahmed / TRAFFIC India