Saturday, June 22, 2013

GHNP - Pheasant habitat on WHC list of nominations

The 37th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO is meeting in Cambodia (16-27 June'13) to decide about the inclusion of 32 new nominated sites of cultural or natural heritage significance. The Great Himalayan National Park, home to the western tragopan and 3 other species of pheasants, snow leopards, Himalayan black bear, and blue sheep - is also on the nominations list. In a report prepared by the IUCN, technical consultant to WHC, and submitted earlier this year, the IUCN had suggested that the present state of people's rights to resources in GHNP can be addressed in a better way, and the boundries of the protected area for World Heritage Site status can be expanded to include the surrounding protected areas as well. So, 7 days into the meeting, the status of GHNP is yet to be decided.

Two natural sites, one each in China and Namibia, have been selected today. 6 cultural heritage sites from India - i.e. 6 forts in the state of Rajasthan - were also selected for the WHS status today.

To find out about the nominated sites, log on to -

News about the session -

The new website of GHNP-


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trade in Peacock Feathers to be Banned in India

The Ministry of Environment and Forests at New Delhi has declared that the proposed ban in peacock feathers (Draft Amendment to WPA, 2010) will soon be put into force.

Thousands of peacocks are killed every year in the rural areas in India due to the use of synthetic pesticides, electrocution from electric supply-lines, and poaching for meat and feathers.

The peacock mortalities are occuring in such alarming numbers that the presence of peacocks in agricultural ecosystems can not be taken for granted anymore.

The Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) had allowed the sale of peacock train feathers that have been naturally shed at the end of the breeding season, but since it is not possible to ascertain whether the feathers are shed or have been plucked from poached birds, and because of the high demand which encourages poaching, the trade in feathers will now be banned. Many rural and tribal communities in India are known to consume peacock meat, and sell the feathers for the lucrative trade. Peacock feathers are made into hand-held fans, earrings and other decorative objects. Peacock feathers are also considered sacred and are used in religious functions. The Hindu gods - Krishna, Ganesha and goddess Saraswati - are always depicted with a peacock feather.

Due to their immense popularity, many Indian households have peacock feathers or products made from feathers. The ban on peacock feathers will apply to sale, transport and purchase of peacock feathers, but will not affect those already possessing the feathers. Hunting of peacocks (and other wild birds and animals) is banned in India.

[A multi-media campaign to prevent the sale of peacock feathers will be useful. To help popularise the idea, people may be encouraged to turn in feathers and articles made from feathers at designated locations in return for car stickers / brooches/ tie-pins declaring 'I Love the Peacock'. The feathers thus turned in may be used by historical or natural history museums.]

Another relevant legislation that can be introduced would be regarding banning the use of synthetic pesticides in the vicinity/ catchment areas of protected areas. A study published in the year 2011 on the presence of pesticides in and around Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan recommends an  'eco-friendly agriculture practice with minimal use of inorganic chemicals to minimize the pesticide residue levels in the park.'

News about the ban on peacock feathers -

Pesticides and wildlife -

Photo of displaying blue peafowl in Duisburg Zoo by BS Thurner Hof from Wikipedia:

Photos of peacock feather fan by Anita Chauhan, May 2013.

An update:

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pheasants are big bucks

The multi-billion dollar hunting industry in the UK and USA relies almost entirely on a single species of introduced pheasant called the common pheasant or the ring-necked pheasant. This species was introduced from Asia, in the UK in the 11th century, and in the USA in 19th century, although some records state that the first pheasants were introduced in 1733 in New York and New Jersey.

Pheasant hunting is a popular sport and provides billions of dollars worth of revenue for governments, farm ownners, hunting clubs and the tourism industry. Hunting reserves and farm set- aside for pheasant hunts also provide protection to the native wild flora and fauna.

Captive pheasants numbering in millions are reared in pheasant farms, and released into hunting reserves during the hunting season. Hunting permits allow the shooting of about 15-16 pheasants per person per season.

Photo of the common pheasant by Dori, 2008 on Wikipedia:

Some images of pheasant hunts :,+painting&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ti4wUaW6HYHTrQf52YGIDQ&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1440&bih=818

The importance of farm set-aside land for game birds and other biodiversity:

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-Warner, R.E., Mankin, P.C., David, L.M. & Etter, S.L. Declining survival of ring-necked pheasant chicks in Illinois during the late 1900s. Journal of Wildlife Management 63, 705-710 (1999).
-Aebischer, N.J. & Ewald, J.A. Grey Partridge Perdix perdix in the UK: recovery status, set-aside and shooting. Ibis 152, 530-542 (2010).
-Bracken, F. & Bolger, T. Effects of set-aside management on birds breeding in lowland Ireland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 117, 178-184 (2006).
-Richardson, J.W., Gerloff, D.C., Harris, B.L. & Dollar, L.L. The economic impacts of conservation provisions in the 1985 Food Security Act on a representative Dawson County, Texas farm. AFPC Policy Research Report 89-1 ST - The economic impacts of conservation pr (1989).
-Van Buskirk, J. & Willi, Y. Enhancement of Farmland Biodiversity within Set-Aside Land. Conservation Biology 18, 987-994 (2004).
-Richardson, J.W., Gerloff, D.C., Harris, B.L. & Dollar, L.L. Economic impacts of conservation compliance on a representative Dawson county, Texas, farm. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 44, 527-531 ST - Economic impacts of conservation com (1989).
-Levin, G. & Jepsen, M.R. Abolition of set-aside schemes, associated impacts on habitat structure and modelling of potential effects of cross-farm regulation. Ecological Modelling 221, 2728-2737 (2010).
-Robinson, P. Pheasant shooting in Britain.The sport and the industri in the 21st century. Report from Animal Aid 1-28 (2005).
-Henderson, I.G., Cooper, J., Fuller, R.J. & Vickery, J. The relative abundance of birds on set-aside and neighbouring fields in summer. Journal of Applied Ecology 37, 335-347 (2000).
-Durie, A.J. Game Shooting: An Elite Sport c.1870-1980. Sport in History 28, 431-449 (2008).
-Firbank, L.G., Telfer, M.G., Eversham, B.C. & Arnold, H.R. The use of species-decline statistics to help target conservation policy for set-aside arable land. Journal of Environmental Management 42, 415-422 (1994).
-Kovács-Hostyánszki, A. & Báldi, A. Set-aside fields in agri-environment schemes can replace the market-driven abolishment of fallows. Biological Conservation 152, 196-203 (2012).
-Corbet, S.A.D.A.M.A.Y. INSECTS, PLANTS AND SUCCESSION - ADVANTAGES OF LONG-TERM SET-ASIDE. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 53, 201-217 (1995).
-Warner, R.E., Etter, S.L., David, L.M. & Mankin, P.C. Annual set-aside programs: a long-term perspective of habitat quality in Illinois and the Midwest. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28, 347-354 (2000).
-Vickery, J., Carter, N. & Fuller, R.J. The potential value of managed cereal field margins as foraging habitats for farmland birds in the UK. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 89, 41-52 (2002).
-Draycott, R.A.H., Hoodless, A.N. & Sage, R.B. Effects of pheasant management on vegetation and birds in lowland woodlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 45, 334-341 (2007).