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National bird facing threat from poachers

G.Venkataramana Rao
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A vendor selling peacock feathers at Canal road in Vijayawada on the occasion of Maha Sivaratri on Monday.
A vendor selling peacock feathers at Canal road in Vijayawada on the occasion of Maha Sivaratri on Monday.

Peacock - It is the national bird and for many it is the holiest of avian fauna. It is associated with more than one God. It is the vahana (steed) of Subramanyeswara Swamy, is a favourite of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Lord Krishna wears the feather of the peacock in his crown.

The bird concerned is sacred and highly respected, but the trading of its feathers is allowed under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The sale of peacock feathers is common at all places where devotees of Lord Shiva or Lord Krishna gather. A few vendors of peacock feathers were seen at different bath ghats on Maha Sivaratri here on Monday.

The trading of peacock feathers is exempted under the Wildlife Act on the premise that the large tail feathers of the bird are shed, but it is common knowledge among officials of the Forest Department that the birds are “killed for collection.”

The then Union Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh proposed an amendment Sections 43 (3) (a) and 44 of the Wildlife Protection Act in 2010, but his portfolio was changed even before he could follow it through.

Former Assistant Conservator of Forests P. Gracious said that peacock preferred the scrub lands to the dense forests. The bird was revered more in North India than in the South. According to the Wildlife Act the killing of the National Bird is prohibited. The birds are killed using pesticide for the collection of the lovely tail feathers.

They have not yet made it to the IUCN Red List of endangered species, but the bird lovers are under the strong opinion that the peacocks that live only in the wild were not safe from poachers.

Nobody keeps them at home or in farms as it was considered bad luck to keep them in captivity.

It is common knowledge among officials of the Forest Department that the birds are killed for their feathers


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