Hundreds of peacocks spread their feathers, ready to dance and splash the countryside with colour in the Pakidi hills in Ganjam district. The hill is home to around 1000 peacocks, the largest concentration of the national bird at any one place in the state. The brightly plummaged birds, which attract tourists to the area in hordes, are revered and protected by the local residents who see them as good luck omens.
When rain clouds gather over the Pakidi hills near Aska in Ganjam district hundreds of peacocks spread their feathers ready to dance and splash the countryside with colour. The hill is home to around 1000 peacocks, the largest concentration of the national bird at any one place in the state. The brightly plummaged birds, which attract tourists to the area in hordes, are revered and protected by the local residents who see them as good luck omens. In fact, peacock protection has turned into a popular movement in the area with a Peacock Protection Committee (PCC) having been formed by the people of villages in the periphery of the hill with the support of the forest department. President of the committee, Samir Pradhan praised forest department officials for their cooperation in the protection of birds.
“The birds feed on ripe tomatoes and red chillies which the people here grow in abundance. Sometimes we have to take extra precaution to save the crops from the birds but no one has ever harmed them. People love them and even keep pots filled with water outside their houses for the birds to slake their thirst during summer,” said Pradhan who hails from Takarda village close to the hill.The Ghumsar south divisional forest officer (DFO), Bijay Ketan Acharya said with summer about to hit its peak steps are being taken by the department to place cemented tanks filled with water in the 20 to 22 villages around the Pakidi hill. “We will place 15 to 20 such tanks in the villages in view of the rising mercury. Our aim is to ensure that the birds do not face any kind of problem on account of water shortage,” the DFO added.
With forest officials and the local Peacock Protection Committee (PCC) taking care to ensure that peacocks are not harmed in any way the birds feel completely secure in Pakidi, a protected forest spread over 472 hectares. The birds frequently come down the hill and roam around in the periphery villages feeding either on the ripened crops or on left-over food.“So far we have not come across any case of intentional killing of the birds. The people here love the peacocks and protect them in all possible ways,” said Acharya. At Chermaria, one of the villages near Pakidi, located about 8 kms from Aska town, the forest department has set up an eco cottage where tourists can stay and enjoy the beauty of the scenic hill and the surrounding countryside.