Agri Business

Of peacocks and climate change

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 15, 2018


Experts studying link between Kerala’s dry weather and the spread of peafowl

Is there a link between the spurt in the Peafowl population in Kerala and the State's arid climate?

The spread of peafowl in recent times has prompted the Centre for Wildlife Studies, under the Kerala Agricultural University, to carry out a study to ascertain whether it has any connection to the worsening dry weather in the State.

Peafowl is basically found in drier tracts, says PO Nameer, Professor and Head of the Centre.

The legendary Birdman of India, Salim Ali, had not reported sighting this bird during the course of his year-long ‘Travancore-Cochin Ornithological Survey’ during the 1930s, Nameer said.

However, Ali had mentioned in his book, Birds of Kerala, published in 1969, that he saw a few peafowls in the Thrissur region in 1963.

The most recent and authoritative book Birds of South Asia — The Ripley Guide, authored by Pamela Ramussen and published in 2012, says that peafowl are seen throughout the Indian peninsula in the dry zone low lands. In Kerala, the bird is reported from the open forests and scrub in the midlands of Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur, according to Birds of Kerala — status and distribution, published in 2011, Nameer said.

Changing pattern

However, there has been a change in distribution of peafowl, and in the last 10-15 years, the birds are sighted in many places, compared to 50-100 years back, he added.

According to Nameer, the objective of the study is to find out there is any co-relation between the bird’s distribution and climate change. The study is almost complete and the team is now analysing the data. It will take a couple of months for the final report to be released.

Quoting IMD statistics, Nameersaid Kerala’s temperature has gone up by 0.66 degrees celsius in the 1950-2016 period.

It is expected that the temperature will move up one degree by 2051, with an increase of 0.01 degree per year.

Perhaps the deforestation in the Western Ghats region can be cited as a reason for the speedy entry of Deccan Plateau dry climate into Kerala. The dry spell may lead to reduction in the moisture level in the soil.

Published on March 20, 2017

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