The focus may be on tiger deaths in Madhya Pradesh but the peacock too needs attention as poachers are increasingly killing the national bird for its feather and meat.
In the last few months, Morena district reported a number of peacock deaths. Initially, the administration ruled out poaching and attributed the deaths to unknown ailment. But, the death of more than a dozen peacocks in Sumwali area on November 16 and 17 raised alarm. The postmortem report revealed that the birds died of poisoning.
Peacock is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act. As per the 2001 census, there were 74,000 peacocks in the district. Incidentally, Morena owes its name to the peacock (known as ‘mor’ in Hindi).
The district forest office sought help of Sagar-based Tiger Task Force (TTF) to investigate the matter. TTF sub-divisional officer Shradha Pandre led a team which seized meat and peacock feather from a hut of Shivraj Mongia. It found skin and other body parts from various spots. Mongia told the team that he ‘collected’ the dead peacocks on the order of a person.
“It is clear that peacocks are being killed in Morena for money. We are not ruling out the possibility of involvement of some local people,” Pandre says.
More than 50 peacocks were found dead between May and November in the area. HT team visited the villages in Morena where locals raised suspicion over the peacock deaths.
Rambali Singh Sikarwar, a resident of Sumavali village, claims locals saw at least 50 dead peacocks around the village in last few months. “We don’t know what the scene elsewhere is,” Sikarwar says. He suspects hunters are mixing poison with wheat. “It was once normal to spot peacocks in Morena and Banmore, but now we have to search for them.”
Villagers allege an organised racket is active in collusion with the Mongia community. The toxicological report of the viscera of the dead peacocks found during the last one week will reveal the poison used to kill them.
Morena collector Vinod Kumar Sharma says he is unaware about involvement of the racket. “But, few people of the Mongia community were found to be involved in the killing of peacocks. They have been warned many times.”