Todar Majra, Makrian, Chunni Khurad, Makar and Majatri Villages

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
Ropar, Punjab Mixed Species Protection 404.8 Privately Owned

Case Study (2009)

Background

Indian peafowl, the national bird of India, was found in abundance in rural areas of Punjab about fifty years ago. The state’s natural vegetation (which included fields interspersed with horticulture trees and dense ever green native trees) provided a suitable habitat for its feeding and roosting. However, the loss of tree cover at the time of consolidation of land holdings (see the state chapter on Punjab for details) and increased use of pesticides during the Green Revolution in the state has led to decrease in availability of habitat and pesticide-free grain for this beautiful bird. In spite of this, the bird can still be sighted in great numbers in 4–5 villages in Ropar District. These villages are Todar Majra, Makrian, Chunni Khurad, Makar and Majatri. These villages are adjacent to each other and cover a total area of nearly 404.8 ha.

As informed by Amar Kaur of village Todar Majra, the villagers are protecting Indian peafowl since ancient times. They do not allow anybody to take away or kill these birds in their area. The community has planted a number of mango trees to give breeding, roosting and nesting places to the birds, and they allow them to feed on the grain in the fields. Every villager provides shelter to these birds on their rooftops, in open yards or in the gardens, and keeps large bowls of water and grain for them. Indian peafowl can be seen moving freely in large numbers in the area and local villagers do not mind their presence even if they destroy the crops (especially fields of spinach, pulses, pea, raya, fenugreek, chillies, etc.) out of love and close association with the birds. 

Another reason for protection of the birds, besides their beauty, is that these birds feed on small snakes and insects from the fields. Religion also plays a key role in protection as the feathers, shed by these birds once a year, are used for decoration in the local gurudwara and temple for making the chaura fan over the Guru Granth Sahib1 by the Sikh community. Hindus in the area also consider the birds sacred.

According to a local villager, Paramjit Singh Grewal, the birds are considered residents of the village and thus the villagers protect the birds as they would any other member of the community.

As a result of the villagers’ efforts, about 400 Indian peafowl have been protected in Todar Majra village alone, which has an area of 500 acres (202.4 ha) and a human population of around 700 persons. 

Despite the best of community efforts, some problems do crop up.

Trees in certain areas are being cut from the panchayat lands by certain influential people in the village, thus destroying the nesting and roosting sites of these birds.

In recent years, due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers in the fields, some Indian peafowl have died due to pesticide poisoning. However, in the recent times some motivated and slightly educated individuals who have come to know about the negative effects of chemical fertilizers have begun motivating the rest of the villagers to use less of them.

Over many generations Apatanis have evolved an intricate system of natural resource management. These include efficient forestry and agricultural skills. There is a strong sense of belonging even today because of the critical cultural, religious and biomass dependence on the ecosystem. Under the influence of modern education and changing socio-cultural scenario, some of the traditions seem to have weakened. However, the fact that the villagers have realised the damage such changes can bring about to their ecosystem and have initiated the village forest protection committees is a strong indication that community-based conservation can be a success in the area if the right conditions are provided. One such condition could be a positive wildlife conservation policy, which would take into account people’s participation in the management and protection of the ecosystem rather than alienating them by creating conflicts, such as creation of the sanctuary without their consent or information.

  This case study was contributed by Dr. Neelima Jerath, Puja Ahluwalia, and Arshdeep Kaur, for this Directory in 2001 and further updated in 2006. Neelima Jairath is the Principal Scientific Officer (Environment) and Arshdeep Kaur is Junior Research Fellow at the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology (PSCST). Pooja Ahluwalia is currently with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Shri. Paramjit Singh Garewal
Farmer,
Village Todar Majra, P/O Majatri,
Ropar, Punjab
Tel. No. 01888-2250043, 2250547

Dr. Neelima Jerath and Arshdeep Kaur
Punjab State Council for Science and Technology,
Sector 26, Adjacent to Sacred Heart School, Chandigarh.
E-mail: [email protected]

Puja Ahluwalia
Research Associate,
Centre for Public Policy,
Indian Institute of Management,
Bannerghatta road,
Bangalore – 560076
Email: [email protected]

1 The religious book of the Sikh community.

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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