Tuesday, April 18, 2006 (Pune):
In an attempt to track the number of peacocks, the forest department in a village near Pune conducted a census.
It found that the number of peacocks have reduced by half in the past four years.
The village of Morachi Chincholi gets its name from the huge population of peacocks. But the census has found that the village is now left with just about 600 peacocks.
In the last count, four years ago, 1500 peacocks were found in the village.
For the villagers, their bond with the peacock is legendary.
Local deity Khandoba is believed to have used the peacock as a vahan and hence the villagers not only protect these birds but also take their good care of them.
Villagers say that for ages they have been doing their best in providing food and water to the peacocks but it was the drought in the past few years that made these birds leave their traditional home.
"We treat them like gods. We make arrangements for their food and water. Infact, we consider their diet when we irrigate our land," said a villager.
Feeding 600 peacocks will take 400 kilograms of grains everyday and water, which has become a scarcity in the drought-prone village.