An old proverb says... "He kills the peacock for the beauty of its feathers..."
But in this case, the National Bird is on the brink... and there are no takers of its feathers.
The lockdown in the state has not only ruined the lives of humans but also animals and birds, including the National Bird here in Petlawad block of Jhabua district, popularly known as Peacock town.
Villages, including Kardawad, Temriya, Panthborali and its adjoining areas are some places, where one can see the peacock strutting around and roaming freely.
Following the ongoing lockdown and migration of villagers and coupled with the vagaries of nature, this flock is facing starvation.
The extreme heatwave conditions in Nimar region was as it is a major headache for these magnificent birds on an annual basis, and now the corona menace and the forced lockdown has eventually throttled the featured beings. Even the officials who were meant to provide fodder and water are busy elsewhere fighting the current scenario.
Many villagers who are engaged in looking after the national bird in the area claimed “The situation is so alarming that during the four months of summer, the birds are hardly seen in the wild — where once they were as common as pigeons or crows,” they pointed out.
This year, the summer has been particularly harsh on the birds with instances of the flock gasping for water and found in semi-conscious state as only a few people have stayed back in the village to take care of them during the corona pandemic.
Notably, Mayur Manch in the area is engaged in providing voluntary services by filing up drums of water to help quench the thirst of peafowls, but this year their efforts too have been restrained thanks to lack of resources, members said.
Senior member of Mayur Manch, Jitendra Katkani, said currently the national bird is facing a crunch time. It’s been a long time since Mayur Manch members held a meeting. Government had earlier declared to sanction land for Mayur Park, but the file is gathering dust.
When contacted, sub-divisional magistrate, ML Malviya, said, "Due to the ongoing pandemic, administration was not able to organise a meeting. We already asked forest department officials to arrange feed and water for the birds. We shall conduct meeting at the earliest.
Similarly, senior advocate Virendra Vyas sought concrete steps from the administration to save the bird.
Notably, though hunting, killing and trading of the Indian peafowl is banned under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, activists say that a large number of birds are killed every year for their feathers, which are in demand for religious and ornamental purposes.
While most of the green peacock has vanished, the blue species is also said to be fighting for survival in many parts of the country, according to experts.
Wildlife experts also say that unscrupulous traders are "engaged" in forcible plucking of peacock feathers, which often leads to a large number of deaths.
Domestic trade in peacock feather is allowed only for feathers naturally shed by the bird, which happens during the monsoons.
Ornithologists say that a conducive climate and terrain with high trees made the entire Petlawad tehsil an ideal home for the peacocks.
*Peacock, declared a national bird in 1963, is part of Indian folklore and a symbol associated with many Hindu deities, including Lord Krishna and Lord Murugan.
*Its beautiful colours and designs have inspired writers, poets, artisans, designers of royal jewels and the famous Peacock Throne of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan