Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jagatsinghpur, May 7:
The wildlife officials sent out to rescue the owl quartet holed up in the hollow atop the holy neem tree identified as the daru for Lord Jagannath at Kharipadia in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district had to shelve the mission owing to opposition from the servitors yesterday.
Under the orders of the principal chief conservator of forests PCCF (Wildlife) following pressure from various quarters, the team comprising wildlife officials reached the spot with a truck fitted with a snorkel ladder, a cage and other necessary tools on Wednesday to execute the rescue act. However, the servitors did not let them go with their plans.
“It is improper to dislodge the owls from the holy tree as they are considered as Goddess Lakshmi’s consort and symbolise auspiciousness and good luck,” one of the servitors said.
After being denied permission to their put hands on the owls, the officials are now in a fix as to how the owls, especially the two chicks, would be relocated ahead of felling of the holy tree.
Notably, the winged guests were seen perching atop the designated tree since the first day of identification of the daru for Lord Jagannath.
Waking up to the call of wildlife activists and environmentalists, the PCCF, Wildlife and chief wildlife warden had dispatched a four-member team headed by the divisional forest officer (DFO), Cuttack to the village for an on-the-spot assessment.
The DFO Sudarsan Behera, however, opined that the owls would fly on their own and there is no need to bring them down from the tree.
This statement of the forest officer did not go down well with bird lovers and forced them to take a call on it.
Meanwhile, the unrelenting servitors are giving a tough time to the officials with the day for felling the holy neem tree approaching near.
It may be mentioned here that the rituals for felling of the tree are likely to begin tomorrow.