Peafowls cause distress to Tiruvannamalai farmers

Birds feast on the crops and destroy several plants

While peacocks are synonymous with their beautiful dance on the girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai, farmers in the region do not relish their presence as they feast on the crops.

The girivalam path around Annamalaiyar Hills is surrounded by many fertile agriculture lands and several farms have sprung up over the past two decades. Farmers from Adiannamalai and Kosalai hamlets say they suffer extensive losses as the birds damage their crops. Affected farmers are now demanding that the State government compensate their loss on the lines of the compensation paid in the of damages caused by wild animals.

The number of peafowls in the region had increased sharply in recent years much to the delight of wildlife activists. Proliferation of the national bird had been noticed in the girivalam path. However, there is no data with the authorities concerned about the number of birds in the district.

R. Murugan, a farmer from Kosalai, said it was normal for 5 to 10 peafowls visiting the region till recently. But the number has gone up several fold now causing loss to farmers. “The birds live off the crops and grains, besides the insects and reptiles that come their way. Gone are the days when farmers and villagers used to enjoy the sight of peacocks,” he said.

Flocks of peafowl arrive in the morning and evening and feast on the fruits and seeds. Hundreds of jackfruit and mangoes had been damaged by them this season, apart from causing extensive loss of vegetable plants, said Mr. Murugan. “Since it is a sensitive bird and protected species, we used to burst firecrackers to disperse them,” he said. But this tactic too was not working now.

“Agriculturalists today are hemmed in by various factors that hit production. Damage caused to productivity by the peacock should not be one of them we feel,” he said. Serious losses had pushed farmers to penury and many farm workers had left the hamlets in search of work.

Located close to the hills, these villages have come havens for the national bird. Forest Department officials too help farmers keep the wild animals away from human habitations. However, they are finding it difficult to keep the birds at bay.

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