Nagar Parkar with scenic Karoonjhar hills and the greenest zone of Tharparkar district is considered the only attractive habitat of several wildlife species, including peacocks, vultures, deer, hares, chameleons, and other animals and birds.
Chameleon population has disappeared from canal areas of Sindh province because of tree cover loss and its hunting by locals, who love to kill it at first sight.
Local activists believe some species like deer, vultures and Nilgai, also called bluebuck, the largest Asian antelope (family Bovidae), used to share the border with neighbouring country India and can be sighted in agriculture and hilly areas, finding it safe to inhabit.
Javed Sammoon, a local activist from village Mansrio, said since the desert communities themselves were nature conservationists through generations they would never allow illegal poaching of birds and animals.
“They love these species and provide protection to them at all levels. That is why birds like peacocks seem familiar with the human population in villages.”
Usually, peacocks stay on tall trees and come down on ground for grains or hunting insects.
According to Samoon, his native Mansrio village attracts a larger population of peacocks after Kasbo village, which are surrounded by thick groves, vegetation, agriculture crops, tall trees and old temples, besides hilly terrains.
A few years back a mysterious disease known as Ranikhet caused deaths of larger groups of peacocks in the desert villages. Local doctors as always provide multivitamins and antibiotics as a precautionary measure to save these beautiful birds, but reports show the disease still exists in the environment.
There is a common understanding among traditional nature conservationists that peacocks being wild birds never come to priority of wildlife authorities for proper mass vaccination to save the natural assets and beauty of Thar, their only habitat.
Anyways, local activists believe the population of peacocks has increased and everywhere villagers enjoy its screams, mostly during the rainy season, also the breeding time of this beautiful bird. Because, after receiving rain showers near their habitats these peafowls find plenty of their favorite food and safe space for mating.
Peahens lay about 3 to 5 eggs in nests or in the ground by making a safe place.
Kanhai Asnani, a community activist from Mithi town said ranikhet disease was still around and these beautiful birds fall prey from time to time.
“Because there is no possibility of mass vaccination of these birds,” Asnani said.
He pointed out the wide road network across Tharparkar district has also opened the way for poaching of these birds.
Quoting local media reports, he said some greedy people offer incentives to local people to poach this bird through intoxication, mixing it in food and taking away the young birds from there for commercial purposes.
Despite highlighting the issue of poaching by media the government authorities are yet to keep strict vigil eye over this loss, he said, adding that Thar is only safe habitat for the peafowls and many other wildlife species, which have migrated to these areas for safe haven. This illegal exercise must be discouraged by the community as well as the government officials.
He said there is an old monastery (ashram) built by local wildlife lover Kheemchand Asnani, his grandfather long ago in the Mithi town, which has thick groves and greenery all around and it attracts birds, including peacocks to come there. The caretakers manage these birds with grains and water, ensuring a safe environment for them.
Larger groups of peacocks love to visit the place to have grain. Many people also come to enjoy the peacocks dancing there during early morning and evenings. This shows the love by local people for birds here in Thar.
Usually, the peacocks eat grains, insects, rats, snakes, frogs, ants, grasshoppers, termites, etc, for survival. That is why after rains this bird receives these favorite foods in the wild habitats.
Nagar Parkar received heavy rain showers on June 19, 2021, which inspired farmers to prepare for cultivation.
Farmers believe that peafowls are useful for them as they keep the populations of harmful insects, rats, snakes, etc in check.
Some people collect feathers for the sell, as mostly people use it for decorating their offices and houses with these beautiful features. But local activists said collecting feathers by community youth is rare. Only outsiders collect a bunch of these feathers for earning a little amount by selling them in the market.
In urban markets luxurious shops sell peacock feathers due to its high demand and popularity.
Hardly a few people in rural and urban areas keep peafowls as a hobby and for entertaining purposes just to please themselves. Otherwise, common men cannot afford to feed these birds under a safe environment in villages or urban neighbourhoods.
The community people in Thar desert have a common demand to stop its illegal poaching through intoxication of young chicks and birds, considering it a loss of nature. Besides this, many other species, including deer, hares, chameleons, and snakes, which migrated from different areas to this safe haven, should be protected through proper mechanisms.
The writer is a staff member