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Bhubaneswar, Aug. 31: Called the Indian turkey in standard poachers’ parlance, the country’s national bird has often been preyed upon for its fibrous meat and decorative plumage.
But villagers living some 200km from the capital have come to the peacock’s rescue.
For first timers, Pakidi Hills of Aska in Ganjam, might appear ordinary. A closer look and one is greeted by thousands of pea-fowls loitering fearlessly around the foothills.
Fortunately, humans are friends to these beautiful birds here. The credit goes to the devoted villagers of surrounding seven villages — Subhachandrapur, Ambuabadi, Kerikerijhola, Bharatapalli, Cheramarai, Sameiguda and Karanauli — who have turned the area into an example of community conservation efforts. Their consistent efforts have not only saved the beautiful birds but has given a boost to the pea-fowl population
Take Ambuabadi for instance. Here the village is divided into three regions and the population divided into three groups — children, men and women. Each group is assigned with one region, which is decided according to the availability of water. The children are usually provided an area surrounding the school where they can easily work.
In Pakidi, villagers provide water to fowls in pitchers. The pitchers are placed in a radius of 1km, where the fowls usually go to drink water. But by placing pitchers in a specified place and by restricting that, villagers have narrowed the area travelled by the bird to drink and that way prevented them from travelling to poachers’ zones.
The initiatives taken by the villagers won them the prestigious Biju Patnaik Award for Wildlife Conservation for the year 2006. Now a confident lot, the villagers are trying to build a centre for eco-tourism.
“We haven’t utilised our cash award. We plan to use it for a watchtower and better water facilities,” said Sheragarh BDO Sanjay Mishra.