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Mysterious disease killing endangered peacocks

January 29, 2011

UMERKOT, Jan 29: A mysterious disease has claimed lives of more than 200 blue peacocks in Thar desert, raising fears the disease will completely wipe out the already endangered bird.

The bird called Indian peafowl and famous for its kaleidoscopic tail and dance is suffering from a mysterious disease. About eight to 10 peacocks a day are reportedly dying in areas of Kehri and Islamkot union councils in Tharparkar district, according to sources.

Bharumal Amrani who works for preservation and protection of wildlife in Thar said that the number of blue peacock found only in India and Thar was dropping each day due to change in rainfall pattern, increase in human population and their anti-environment activities, illegal sale of eggs, smuggling and the practice of keeping the bird as pet in bungalows and guesthouses in unfavourable conditions.

He said that peacock has fallen victim to the mysterious disease, which attacks its throat in initial stages. The throat develops a small lump which grows bigger and bigger by each day until it bursts and a worm wriggles out of it. The bird first goes blind and then dies suddenly, he said.

He said that no survey of birds, especially of peacocks, had ever been carried out in Thar to count its population. In past the bird's number had fallen considerably in the wake of long spell of droughts and installation of electric poles, he said.

As the bird landed on electrical wires its heavy weight caused the wires to swerve downwards and contract other wires, causing electrocution and sudden death of birds, he said.

According to villagers, no Wildlife official has visited the area where peacocks have died in such large number of a hitherto unidentified disease.

This correspondent tried to contact officials concerned but found their cell phones turned off. Our Mithi correspondent adds:

A large number of peacocks have died of the mysterious disease in different villages of Mithi taluka over the past couple of days.

According to former nazim of Kehri union council Dost Ali Wasepoto, scores of peacocks have died in Kehri, Paluro, Mohario and other villages.

He urged authorities concerned to take notice of the disease and send a team of experts to the affected area to rescue the endangered birds.