The peacock may be a thing of beauty especially when it spreads its colourful feathers in merriment. However farmers in Kulithalai and Krishnarayapuram regions of Karur district are suffering as the huge birds prey on their crops damaging the produce. Affected farmers are now demanding that the State Government compensate their loss, in the manner the authorities do for damages caused by other wild animals.

Peacock population in the district has increased enormously in the recent years to the great satisfaction of wildlife enthusiasts. Large proliferation of peacocks has been noticed in Karur, Krishnarayapuram, Kulithalai, Thogamalai and Kadavur taluks of the district. Undisturbed by humans, the numbers have multiplied many times over. In fact, there is hardly any data with the relevant authorities as to the number of birds in the district.

Aided by the mythology-hallowed status bestowed on peacocks, the birds have had a peaceful life in their wild habitats bordering on human settlements in the countryside. The only problem the peacocks face is from dogs and mongrels that attack them in the fields and apart from that there is hardly any trouble. A relatively peaceful living has also contributed to their incremental rise in numbers in recent years.

However, the farmers have now started to feel the pinch of an increased peacock population in the Karur-Kadavur belt that spans five taluks in the district. The birds live off the crops and grains the farmers raise in their fields, besides the insects and reptiles that come their way. Gone are the days when farmers and villagers relish the sight of peacocks grazing their fields eagerly looking for food and grain.

“We now dread the sight of peacocks invading our fields. Agriculturalists today are hemmed in by various adverse factors that hit production to lay us low. Damage caused to productivity by the peacock should not be one among them we feel,” points out R. Satheesh, convener, Farmers Discussion Group, Valayapatti, a peacock infested area.

The State Government has been compensating farmers who live on the fringe of the forests when their crops and fields are invaded by animals such as elephants. The damage to the crops is estimated and compensated to the satisfaction of the farmers. If that could be done for farmers living near the forests, then the State Government should not have any qualms in addressing our concerns as our fields are in the countryside and peacocks are intruding into our space, demands Karur District president of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam V.K. Thangavelu of Taragampatti.

The affected farmers are urging the State Government to consider compensating the loss to the crops caused by peacocks as it does periodically for damages caused by other wild animals elsewhere. “Our hands are tied in driving away the peacocks when they prey on our crops and we look up to the State Government to do justice to our patience and concern for wildlife,” they say.

Keywords: peacock menace