Photos of a woman posing with a beheaded owl have sparked fury and put her in the crosshairs of animal rights activists.
The woman, identified as La Gata Verdolaga Real Aldana, posted the sick snaps showing her posing with the beheaded owl on her Facebook profile.
The 21-year-old reportedly lives in the city of Corozal, in the northern Colombian department of Sucre.
The gruesome post was published on June 21 at around 2am and shows the owl, reportedly a barn owl, beheaded as the woman poses holding the head in one hand and the body in another.
The woman was strongly criticised by outraged people who called for police action against her, prompting her to delete the pictures from her account.
However the pictures went viral anyway after being posted by other social media users who asked the authorities to investigate the case.
The Autonomous Regional Corporation of Sucre said in a press statement: “We support the care and preservation of these species, as they are an essential link in our ecosystems, which generate balance, and this is why we call on citizens not to stigmatise these species over myths and legends surrounding them.”
The statement added that the case was now under investigation.
Some South American cultures believe owls are linked to witchcraft, causing them to be the victims of human violence.
The Autonomous Regional Corporation of Sucre said that they plan to start an awareness campaign to dispel myths which link certain species to witches, witchcraft or bad luck.
Police began an operation to identify the woman and she was found in the neighbourhood of San Jose de Corozal, in the Sucre department, from where she was taken to the police station for questioning.
The 21-year-old will be investigated for a crime of animal abuse and could face an unspecified fine or imprisonment as a result, depending on the exact charges which have not yet been reported.