UMERKOT: Deaths of peafowl in Thar because of frequent outbreaks of Newcastle disease and other factors, among them loss of habitat and prolonged droughts, have prompted a foreign NGO to launch a project for the bird’s protection.

The District Development Association-Tharparkar (DDAT) in collaboration with the USAID-Small Grants Ambassador Fund Program (USAID-SGAFP) launched the initiative titled “peafowl protection through integrated measures in Tharparkar district” at a ceremony at the Mithi Press Club on Wednesday.

Though there is no exact figure on the bird’s population and number of deaths over the past two years, people fear the deadly disease may render the bird extinct in its only remaining

habitat.

DDAT head Kirshan Sharma said that his organisation had envisaged a protection plan to save the bird and together with the USAID it would adopt integrated measures to promote indigenous practices to protect the bird.

The measures included mapping of the bird, vaccination, supply of drinking water, mobilisation of community to be good neighbors and establishment of early warning system, he said.

Noor Ahmed Jhanjhi, social activist and educationist, said that water shortage, climate change and severe heat might be the main reasons behind increasing mortality among the birds. Local communities could play a pivotal role in the protection of the bird, he said.

Social activist Bansi Malhi feared the transportation of poultry in the area had spread the Newcastle disease among the peafowl while prolonged droughts decreased grain and insects it lived on causing malnutrition and low immune power among the birds. He said that people coveted the birds because of its beauty and its chicks and eggs were in high demand in cities where the bird faced a certain death because of unsuitable environment.

Deforestation had also caused a rise in temperature which had had a telling impact on the health of sensitive bird, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2014

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