The Indian peafowl, also known as the blue peafowl, is the national bird of India. It signifies joy, grace, love, and beauty. The peafowl is a large majestic bird with colorful and attractive feathers. It has a crest of feathers on the head, a white patch below the eye, and a long slender neck. The birds are an important part of the Indian identity and culture and are therefore protected by religious segments and parliamentary legislation.
The Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 protects the Indian peafowl. The peacock has cultural significance to India, the Far East, ancient Greece and Persia, and Christianity. In Hinduism, the peacock depicted the god of thunder, rain, and war. The Indian people believed that the rainy season was about to begin when the peacock spreads its tail in an ornamental fashion. Because of the cultural and religious affiliation of this bird to the country, it was declared the national bird in 1963.
Habitat and Distribution
The Indian peafowl is native to the Indian subcontinent and it is found in the lowlands of Sri Lanka and India. In South Asia, it is mainly found at attitudes or below 1.1 miles but in rare cases, it can be found in altitude of about 1.2 miles. Its habitat consists of dry deciduous and moist forest but they have adapted to living in cultivated settlements close to humans. Because they are protected by legislation and religious practices, the birds do not see humans as an immediate threat and will forage in towns and villages for scraps. The Indian peafowl has been introduced into North and South America, Europe, Madagascar, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, and Indonesia. This bird is known to be highly adaptive and can be found in harsher climate such as those of northern Canada. They have been spotted in the northern part of the country as far as Huntsville, Ontario.
Threats and Conservation
The Indian peafowl is hunted for its beautiful feathers that are used as decorations. Poachers also hunt and kill them for meat. They are a nuisance when inhabiting near farmlands because they feed on grains and are therefore hunted or poisoned by farmers. The peacock has been granted special conservation because of its status as the national bird, the hunting and transfer of these animals is illegal. They are listed as of least concern because of the larger numbers and wide distribution and in the wild. Apart from the world population, they are also be found in zoos and private parks across the world. Human encroachment and destruction of the bird's natural habitat is an immediate threat that conservationists and the government of India need to address to ensure the continued survival of these birds.