Why dozens of Pakistani peacocks perish?

(Photo : Xinhua)

Peacocks and peahens on the verge of extinction in area

Like every year, drought and extreme hot weather in Thar Desert of Southern Sindh province of Pakistan have started hitting the birds as dozens of peacocks have died and hundreds of birds fallen sick in different villages.

The drought and hot weather causes outbreak of disease that perishes beautiful birds found in abundance in Thar Desert bordering the desert area of Rajasthan state of India. The flocks of peacocks use to gather at outskirts of villages where they are fed by the villagers. Later, they disperse to nearby bushes and trees.

Dozens of birds used to visit different villages but now a very few are seen. The villagers found dead and sick birds and reported to the media and concerned officials.

At least 20 peacocks died in a day and so far over 100 birds have died. The number is feared to increase as four to five birds are reportedly dying every day. None of the officials of Wildlife Department has visited the area.

The drought also hit the animals in February last when hundreds of sheep and goats died in various parts of the desert. After the animals, the deaths of numerous children from malnutrition were reported.

Until the villagers receive help for the dying peacocks, the residents are giving the sick birds common painkillers.

Meanwhile, the government claimed it is taking all measures to overcome the situation. “The department is well-aware of the situation and officials are visiting the affected villages,” said Sindh minister for wildlife and forest Giyan Chand Essarani.

He disclosed that the vaccine is ineffective and cannot save the birds. “Vaccination is not a solution,” he said.

“The birds are very weak and we can’t afford a second dosage of the vaccine.” According to him, the birds may be dying due to the hot weather and the drought. When they are not given food properly, they will die, he said, adding that proper care can save them.

Tharparkar Wild Life Department Conservator Lajpat Sharma said that the ailing peacocks have been taken into custody and medical tests for diagnosing their disease being conducted.
The number of dead birds could be high, as they live in bushes and trees away from human settlements, and are found perished only when the villagers go for collecting dried branches of trees for cooking food.

A corpse of peacock (Photo : Nand Lal Lohano)

Peacocks found dead in arid Thar desert

The peacocks are found in the arid strip of desert, stretching for over 200km from Mithi to Nagarparkar, having wild bushes and other plantation that gets greener during the rains, and is the natural habitat of peacocks.

Locals said after being infected by the disease, the eyes of the peacocks swell up and within 24 hours they die. The bones, feathers and other remains of peacock were seen scattered at different places.

An official told that according a census conducted a few years back, the population of peacocks in Nagarparkar alone was around 24000 while it is also in thousands in Mithi area, as these areas are natural habitats of the birds.

Peacocks and their female peahens are on the verge of extinction in Thar desert because of an illegal and unabated sale of its eggs, smuggling and loss of habitat. Decrease in the bird`s number have in turn contributed to an increase in the snakes` population as the peacock, being its mortal enemy, keeps the reptiles’ number in check.

Chain of food collapses in desert area

Change in rainfall pattern, increasing population of humans and their anti-environment activities, illegal sale of eggs, smuggling, keeping the bird in unfavorable conditions have contributed to an alarming decrease in the birds` population.

“The rainy season of the year is the time for the blue peacock, found only in India, Bangladesh and Thar Desert of Sindh, to dance and their female peahens start breeding. This season, when the beautiful birds were awaiting rains, the mysterious disease has started perishing them,” Bharu Mal, an official of local NGO said.

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