Beed (Maharashtra): India’s national bird, the peacock, is under severe threat from nature’s vagaries at one of the largest peacock national parks in the country at Naigaon here.
The threat is not from its natural predators or humans, but from the extreme heat wave conditions in the Marathwada region, around 400 km east of Mumbai, that virtually suffocate and even kill the magnificent bird.
According to local conservationists, nearly 13 adult peafowl have reportedly perished this summer mainly because of starvation and water shortages in the Naigaon Peacock Sanctuary (NPS).
“A few years, or maybe a decade, ago, there were an estimated 10,000 peafowl flourishing here with sufficient food and water. However, in recent years, their numbers have sharply dwindled,” Mayur Mitra Mandal (MMM) president Shahid Syed told IANS.
MMM is engaged in providing voluntary services by taking drums of water to the park to help quench the thirst of peafowls, but it is restrained by lack of resources, Syed said.
However, a former Range Forest Officer S.A. Bade dismissed the claims made by Syed and said that in May, just one peacock was found dead.
“Yes, there were a large number of peafowl here a few years ago, but the figure of 10,000 may be a bit exaggerated. Today, there are nearly 3,500 peafowl in the sanctuary,” said Bade, who spent three years at NPS.
Though admitting the dwindling numbers, Bade said this could be more due to migration to other greener pastures rather than deaths due to shortage of food and water or poaching.
Syed said that after conferring national park status on the Naigaon Peacock Sanctuary (NPS) in 1994, there was little or no follow-up action in the form of sanctioning funds for its development and upkeep.
This year, the summer has been particularly harsh on the peafowl with instances of birds gasping for water and being found in semi-conscious state.
The weak and dehydrated birds become easy prey for hyenas, wild cats, foxes and even humans who throng the 30-sq km NPS, spread across the Balaghat hills here, he said.