Peacocks are set to stage a colourful re-appearance on the Punjab rural landscape thanks to the state’s first successful breeding of a dozen peachicks with the help of artificial incubation. Peacocks — figuring on the list of the most beautiful birds on the planet — are on the verge of extinction in the entire subcontinent, particularly in Punjab where just a few hundreds have been able to survive. Various factors like the growing use of pesticides and insecticides, shrinking of their habitats, hunting and destruction of their eggs by animals, including stray dogs, are posing a threat to the national bird’s survival. The sharp dip in peacock numbers in the state has led to an increase in the population of snakes in the countryside as the peacocks used to keep the reptile population in control. The peacock population has shrunk to such an extent that the beautiful birds are virtually confined to a few ‘birs’ (small forests) and in and around the Chhatbir zoo. In this dismal scenario, a ray of hope has emerged for nature and wildlife lovers as the efforts of the Punjab Forest Department to raise the peacock population – through artificial incubation — in the state have shown positive results. Interestingly, hens were “generous enough” to make a contribution to ‘mission peacock population’ by helping out the officials in the hatching of eggs and raising of the peachicks. The department had specially got its forest guards trained to collect peahen eggs from ‘birs’ of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. Sanjiv Tiwari, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Bathinda, said the first batch of peachicks, which were hatched and raised with the help of a special incubator brought from New Delhi and installed in the Bir Talaab Zoo, were released in the forests of Bathinda district. The area had become a ‘red zone’ as it had the thinnest population of around 100 peacocks. “The eggs were hatched with the help of hens. Each egg required incubation for 28-29 days with controlled temperature in the range of 37°C and humidity levels hovering between 60-70 per cent,” said Tiwari.


Source: November 3, 2016, The Tribune