Rapid increments in the number of Peacocks indicates climate change in Kerala

by Priya Bharti

On, Tuesday 17th August, A newly married couple on a motorbike met with a tragic end in Thrissur after a flying peacock hit the rider on the chest. The man lost his life in the accident, while his wife sustained injuries.

This is not the only case; incidences of peafowl, isolated and in groups, causing threat to motorists are perhaps frequent now, especially near paddy fields. Peafowl’s, whose appearances were quite rare in the State earlier, are now spotted even in densely populated areas.

Birds could be regarded as a bioindicator of environmental change as they are very sensitive to vagaries of climate. However, only limited analysis is available on the effect of climate change on the distribution of birds in India.

The increasing sightings of the Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), a dry-land species, are an indicator of the changing climate in Kerala, says P.O. Nameer, Head of Centre for Wildlife Studies, College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur.

According to the study, currently, 19.15 % area in the State provides a suitable habitat for the peafowl, while predictions suggest that this area may expand to 41.44% and 55.33% by 2050.

Central Kerala is found to be the hotspot for its expansion, and the distribution may be prominent towards south-east and north-west during the 2050s and 2070s respectively.

“In Kerala, 500 bird species are present, of which 17 are endemic species. There have been sightings of several dry-land bird species over Kerala.

The human-peafowl conflict often arises when the birds damage paddy crops. “Frequent attack of peafowl’s on paddy fields is a major concern for farmers. The birds sometimes come in groups and finish paddy spikes in a large area.

Due to its status as the National Bird, people often refrain from attacking peacocks. Moreover, its meat is not consumed in the State.

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