Kerala

Peacock threat peaks in Palakkad

A peacock at an agricultural farm at Thenkurissi near Palakkad.

A peacock at an agricultural farm at Thenkurissi near Palakkad.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

A fall in jackal population has contributed to a spike in the bird’s numbers

Peacock population have increased menacingly across the district, posing a serious threat to the farmers engaged in paddy and other grain and pulse cultivation. According to farmers, the increase has been palpable over the last 10 years.

Gone are the days when peacocks used to be found rarely in village farmlands. Now, they are no longer confined to bushes in the forest fringes areas. Their population is spread across Palakkad district.

All farmlands in Palakkad, especially those focussing on organic or natural farming, are facing threat from the birds. Environmentalists say the rise in peacock population is directly related to the reduction in the number of jackals in villages.

Jackal population has plummeted after they lost their dens in the wide clearing of vegetation as part of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Jackals used to eat the eggs laid by peahens, and thus were instrumental in controlling the peacock population. Experts suggest that the decrease in the population of one species will have some form of ecological impact. As peacocks are omnivorous, they easily survive by feeding on grains, insects and small reptiles and mammals.

In groups too

Peacocks attack farmlands sometimes in ostentation. “Unlike animals, it is not easy to drive them away. When we go near them, they fly to treetops, and come back as they please,” said S. Guruvayurappan, an organic farmer and Paristhithi Aikyavedi leader from Thattamangalam.

Farmers are weary of approaching the government seeking compensation for the crop damage caused by peacocks. They cite delay and red-tapism. Seldom do they get compensation for the actual loss. “The government should compensate the farmers for the actual loss caused by wild animals,” said Mr. Guruvayurappan.

Traps and poison

Although forest officials insist that peacocks enjoy protected status in the country, farmers sometimes kill them by setting traps and poisoning. Out of desperation, some farmers in the district have erected banners warning the Forest Department that they have set poison traps in their farmland.

Forest officials are forced to turn a blind eye to some of the excesses. They agree that controlling a bird like peacock is difficult. Maintaining ecological balance is essential in the management of any wild species, they say.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 7:43:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/peacock-threat-peaks-in-palakkad/article30832371.ece

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