Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trade in Peacock Feathers to be Banned in India

The Ministry of Environment and Forests at New Delhi has declared that the proposed ban in peacock feathers (Draft Amendment to WPA, 2010) will soon be put into force.

Thousands of peacocks are killed every year in the rural areas in India due to the use of synthetic pesticides, electrocution from electric supply-lines, and poaching for meat and feathers.

The peacock mortalities are occuring in such alarming numbers that the presence of peacocks in agricultural ecosystems can not be taken for granted anymore.

The Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) had allowed the sale of peacock train feathers that have been naturally shed at the end of the breeding season, but since it is not possible to ascertain whether the feathers are shed or have been plucked from poached birds, and because of the high demand which encourages poaching, the trade in feathers will now be banned. Many rural and tribal communities in India are known to consume peacock meat, and sell the feathers for the lucrative trade. Peacock feathers are made into hand-held fans, earrings and other decorative objects. Peacock feathers are also considered sacred and are used in religious functions. The Hindu gods - Krishna, Ganesha and goddess Saraswati - are always depicted with a peacock feather.

Due to their immense popularity, many Indian households have peacock feathers or products made from feathers. The ban on peacock feathers will apply to sale, transport and purchase of peacock feathers, but will not affect those already possessing the feathers. Hunting of peacocks (and other wild birds and animals) is banned in India.

[A multi-media campaign to prevent the sale of peacock feathers will be useful. To help popularise the idea, people may be encouraged to turn in feathers and articles made from feathers at designated locations in return for car stickers / brooches/ tie-pins declaring 'I Love the Peacock'. The feathers thus turned in may be used by historical or natural history museums.]

Another relevant legislation that can be introduced would be regarding banning the use of synthetic pesticides in the vicinity/ catchment areas of protected areas. A study published in the year 2011 on the presence of pesticides in and around Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan recommends an  'eco-friendly agriculture practice with minimal use of inorganic chemicals to minimize the pesticide residue levels in the park.'

News about the ban on peacock feathers -

Pesticides and wildlife -

Photo of displaying blue peafowl in Duisburg Zoo by BS Thurner Hof from Wikipedia:

Photos of peacock feather fan by Anita Chauhan, May 2013.

An update:

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