Does the rising number of peafowls in Kerala portend severe drought?

Does the rising number of peafowls in Kerala portend severe drought?

Thiruvananthapuram: Increasing number of peafowls has been turning up in the rural and urban areas of Kerala, indicating that a severe drought is in store for the state.

Scientists say that deforestation and climate change are causing the peafowls to migrate to human settlement areas en masse. The peafowls, that arrive in groups, have been causing extensive damage to the crops. Also, in a tragic incident reported at Ayanthol in Thrissur district a week ago, a youth was killed after a low-flying peacock hit his bike.

More in north Kerala

The number of peafowls, which was rarely spotted in Kerala earlier, is now more in rural and urban areas. The forest department has pointed out that the increase in peafowl numbers is more in north Kerala.

Until a couple of years ago peafowls were so rare that they were seen only in less than 19% area of Kerala. This could increase to 50 per cent by 2050, warns a study by the Academy of Climate Change Education and Research of the Kerala Agricultural University.

Changes in the food chain have led to an increase in the number of wild boars and peafowls, according to the officials of the forest department.

Of open, arid land

The scientists point out that the forest is not the habitat of peafowls. Instead their habitat is open, arid land. In Kerala, peafowls are mostly found in Palakkad and Thrissur districts. They are also found in high numbers in Wayanad, Kasaragod, Chinnar region of Idukki, Thenmala in Kollam and the border areas of Thiruvananthapuram that are close to the Kanyakumari district. Peafowls are more commonly seen in states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

The number of peafowls in Kerala has been on the rise since 1980, according to dean Dr P O Nameer who carried out the study along with V Sanjo Jose.

Jail for killing peafowls

The peacock, also the National Bird, is listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act. Killing a peafowl can attract a jail term of up to 7 years and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. A case will also be filed for destroying peafowl eggs.

The Choolannur Peafowl Sanctuary, located in the Palakkad district, is the only sanctuary for these birds in Kerala.

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