Two endangered Indian owls have been freed back into the wild with the help of a Cumbrian owl centre.
Mahadevanand Saraswathi, a Hindu monk from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in India, rescued the owls from a tiny cage and let them live in his shower room at his home.
H then got in contact with Wulf Ingham, head keeper at The World Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle, who advised him on how to care for the birds, and what he would need to do before he could re-release them into the wild.
After a diet of raw chicken, the owls have now been freed back into the wild.
The owls - Forest Owlet - are native to the forests of central India and are critically endangered due to increasing deforestation.
Wulf said: “We were so pleased that Mahadevanand contacted us. He had done a fantastic job rescuing and looking after the owls; it was a pleasure to be able to help.
“These birds are critically endangered so ensuring they are released back into their natural habitat is vital for the continuation of the species.”
Mahadevanand Saraswathi - a vegetarian Hindu monk who regards all life as sacred - said: “ It’s so hard in India for living things to survive, so it’s nice to see mother nature win once in a while. I love owls and it’s wonderful to just hang out on the steps next to the Ganges and watch them in the evening.
“I managed to find the World Owl Trust website via the internet and they quickly came to my aid. I can’t thank them enough for their help in getting the owls back to where they belong.”
The World Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle is home to over 200 owls from around 50 different species and sub-species, some of which are not commonly found in other collections. They range from the biggest owl in the world - the European Eagle Owl - to the tiny Pygmy and Scops Owls.
World Owl Trust at www.owls.org. To find out about Muncaster go to www.muncaster.co.uk.