The Environment Ministry of India decided to put a ban on the trade of peacock feathers as a measure to conserve the national bird of India- peacock.
The government has no data regarding peacock population, but it is evident that the number of peacocks in India is dwindling because of poaching of the feathers which fetches good price in not just international markets, but also within Indian markets.
World Wide Fund for nature in 1991 did the only stock-taking of peacock population in India. It was found that India had only 50 percent of overall peacock population left, in comparison to what existed during independence. It is believed that the population of the peacocks went down even more since 1991 because of a rise in poaching as well as habitat loss.
There has been an increased demand of the peacock feathers, also called morpankh. Therefore, the Environment Ministry decided to completely ban the trade of any kind (sale, purchase or transport) of the peacock feathers.
Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan explained that the decision was taken to put a complete ban on the trade of morpankh.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the trade of naturally shed peacock feathers
Trading of the naturally shed peacock feathers is permitted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This act completely prohibits peacock killing. However, because of the loophole in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, extensive killing of peacocks takes place in India for the lucrative business of peacock feathers.
With the approval of the Union Government of India, an amendment will be made to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in order to make trading of any body part of national bird an offence, which would be equivalent to the punishment granted for killing the other non-endangered species. This means that anyone caught buying or selling the peacock feathers or the trophies would be jailed for up to 2 years under amended Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.