UMERKOT, June 11: Tharparkar peafowl are under threat as the Newcastle disease has returned to the district and killed 22 peafowl within two weeks while many others are inflicted with the disease, Dawn has learnt.

However, the wildlife department has taken no action to save the birds considered sacred and the beauty of the desert, where people regard these birds as family members.

Two weeks ago, the disease in peafowl was reported in a number of villages.

In 2011 and 2012 during summer, the Newcastle disease, also known as Ranikhet, killed more than 300 peafowl in Tharparkar district.

According to reports and residents, four peafowl were believed to have died from the disease in Sora Chand village of Nagarparkar taluka, four others in villages of Diplo, Dedh Vero, Motayo; two in Nebkar Diplo, and two others died in Jage Jo Tar villages of Mithi.

However, assistant conservator of the wildlife department Lajpoat Sharma denied any epidemic of Ranikhet, or Newcastle disease, in the area.