Dance in the desert
NOTagar Parkar with the picturesque hills of Karoonjhar and the greenest area of Tharparkar district is considered the only attractive habitat of several wildlife species including peacocks, vultures, deer, hares, chameleons and other animals and birds.
The chameleon population has disappeared from the canal areas of Sindh province due to the loss of tree cover and its hunting by the locals, who love to kill it at first sight.
Local activists believe certain species like deer, vultures and Nilgai, also known as bluebuck, Asia’s largest antelope (family of bovids), shared the border with the neighboring country, India, and can be seen in agricultural and hilly areas.
Javed Sammoon, a local activist from the village of Mansrio, said that since the desert communities themselves have been conservationists for generations, they would never allow illegal poaching of birds and animals.
“They love these species and provide them with protection at all levels. This is why birds like peacocks seem familiar with the human population in the villages.
Usually, peacocks stay on tall trees and descend to the ground for grain or insect hunting.
According to Samoon, his hometown of Mansrio attracts a larger population of peacocks after the village of Kasbo, which are surrounded by thick groves, vegetation, agricultural crops, tall trees and old temples, in addition to hilly terrain.
A few years ago, a mysterious disease known as Ranikhet caused the death of larger groups of peacocks in desert villages. Local doctors are as always providing multivitamins and antibiotics as a precaution to save these beautiful birds, but reports show the disease still exists in the environment.
There is a common understanding among traditional conservationists that peacocks, being wild birds, are never given priority by wildlife authorities for proper mass vaccination to preserve the natural assets and beauty of Thar, their only habitat.
Anyway, local activists believe that the peacock population has increased and villagers everywhere enjoy its cries, mainly during the rainy season, also the breeding season of this beautiful bird. Because after receiving rain showers near their habitat, these peacocks find plenty of their favorite food and a safe space to mate.
Peacocks lay about 3 to 5 eggs in nests or in the ground making themselves a safe place.
Kanhai Asnani, a community activist from Mithi Town, said ranikhet disease is still present and these beautiful birds become prey from time to time.
“Because there is no possibility of mass vaccination of these birds,” Asnani said.
He pointed out that the extensive road network through Tharparkar district has also paved the way for poaching of these birds.
Quoting from local media reports, he said that some greedy people are offering incentives to local people to poach this bird through poisoning, mixing it with food and taking the young birds away for commercial purposes.
Despite the media’s focus on the poaching problem, government authorities still need to closely monitor this loss, he said, adding that the Thar is only a safe habitat for peacocks and many. other wildlife, which have migrated to these areas for safe haven. . This illegal exercise should be discouraged by the community as well as by government officials.
He said there was an ancient monastery (ashram) built by Kheemchand Asnani, a lover of local wildlife, his grandfather long ago in the town of Mithi, which has thick groves and greenery all over the place. around and attracts birds, including peacocks. The keepers manage these birds with grain and water, ensuring them a safe environment.
Larger groups of peacocks love to visit the area for grain. Many people also come to enjoy the peacocks dancing there in the early morning and evening. It shows the love of the local people for the birds here in Thar.
Usually, peacocks eat grains, insects, rats, snakes, frogs, ants, grasshoppers, termites, etc. to survive. That is why, after the rains, this bird receives these favorite foods in wild habitats.
Nagar Parkar received heavy rain showers on June 19, 2021, prompting farmers to prepare for cultivation.
Farmers believe that peacocks are useful to them because they control populations of pests, rats, snakes, etc.
Some people collect feathers to sell them because most of the people use them to decorate their offices and homes with these beautiful features. But local activists said collection of feathers by young people in the community is rare. Only foreigners collect a bunch of these feathers to earn a small sum by selling them in the market.
In urban markets, luxury stores sell peacock feathers due to its high demand and popularity.
Few people in rural and urban areas keep peacocks as a hobby and for entertainment purposes just for fun. Otherwise, ordinary men cannot afford to feed these birds in a safe environment in villages or urban neighborhoods.
The inhabitants of the Thar Desert community have a common demand to stop its illegal poaching by poisoning young chicks and birds, seeing it as a waste of nature. In addition to this, many other species, including deer, hares, chameleons and snakes, which have migrated from different areas to this refuge, should be protected by appropriate mechanisms.
The writer is a staff member