KARACHI - The speakers at a dialogue on ‘Peacocks Mortality and Climate Change Affects in Thar’ has called government to protect peacocks from ‘New Castle’ disease and demanded to devise strategy to avoid such incidence in future.

The dialogue was organised by the Friends of Indus Forum in collaboration with WWF’s Climate Change Adaptation Project and RDF here on Tuesday. Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Wildlife Department Conservator Hussain Bux Bhagat said the department is committed to protect the peacocks and other wildlife in the province. However, he deplored the department has human as well as financial constraints. He said that about 80,000 populations of peacocks exist in Thar and added the provincial department has approved new scheme under which mobile unit would be available at Thar along with technical staff to combat any viral attack on the peacocks. He said the department alone could not tackle any crisis but collective efforts are needed by all stakeholders including civil society organisations. He added a number of NGOs are working in Thar but so far, none of them have extended any support to the department to save peacocks from the virus. Forum’s Vice President Ali Akbar Rahmoon said this was the third consecutive year that peacock mortality is reported in Thar but no concrete measures were taken by the authorities concerned. He added the government should seek international assistance to deal with the critical situation.

Forum’s General Secretary Nasir Ali Panhwar said the Thar people were close to the nature and they had emotional attachment to peacocks and other wildlife. He said the forum had provided an opportunity to all stakeholders to take stock of situation and develop remedy for virus which had affected the peacock population. He said around 3000 snake bite cases were reported in Thar annually and in this context the peacock population was vital part of food web and predator for snake.

He said the peacocks play an important role in healthy ecosystem.

Sohail Sangi said the climate change impacted on ecology of Thar as delayed monsoon is reported for last couple of years. He urged the community participation should be ensured in protecting peacocks. Ashfaque Soomro of RDF said his organisation would extend full support to the Sindh wildlife department to effectively deal peacock disease. He said vaccination to prevent further mortality was imperative.

Altaf Sheikh of WWF said the immune system of peacock becomes weak in summer and due to delayed rain, poultry was affected first followed by peacocks from new castle virus. He called for joint strategy to combat disease involving poultry department and other stakeholders. Nadia Bajwa of WWF said that it would be too early to link any incident with climate change as in Pakistan it was still at nascent stage. Kamran Naqvi of IUCN, Pertab Shiwani of Marrora Coordination Council, Bharoo Mal of SCOPE, Nawaz Kumbhar, Prem Shiwani, Aijaz Abro, Ghulam Mustafa Mirani, Ghulam Hyder Birhmani, Khatao Jani, and others also spoke on the occasion.