September 12, 2007
Matari-Tale of a Peahen
The 29th day of August 2007, 6.30 PM witnessed an unusual event at IIC Annex - “Peafowl Nesting”, second in a series of events
organized by the newly formed Nature Group of IIC.
It was that time of the year when peahens lay their eggs and incubate them for about 29 days before the eggs hatch. The chicks are timed
to come out just as the monsoon arrives in North India. The peahens in Delhi’s Lodi Park, finding the Lodi lawns lacking in the privacy and security needed for egg hatching, started looking around for safer ground. The nearest large
green space happened to be the IIC Lawns! But here again the lawns are manicured and tended to by the ‘Malis’ all the time. So, where next?
A smart one flew right onto one of the ledges provided on each floor of IIC for keeping a pot of green ferns. Laid the eggs one by one and started incubating them.
The ledge happened to be next to the dining hall of IIC. But the peahen was lucky. The waiters at the dining hall ensured that the curtains were drawn all the time so that curious diners did not distract the peahen.
The nature group at IIC was informed. A slide presentation on the Blue peafowl and a screening of “Sarang the Peacock” was organized on 27 May 2007.
Rajesh Bedi (of Bedi Bros ) installed a close circuit TV in the dining hall so that the activities of the peahen, aptly called Matari, can be monitored.
By August, the chicks hatched and were busy eating and playing under the watchful eye of the peahen who gathered them under her wings at
the slightest sign of disturbance. It was time to meet and take stock and also to spread the story.
On the 29th of August 2007 Mr. Samar Singh (World Pheasants Association-India) welcomed the gathering emphasizing the event of
the year-a peahen nesting 30 feet above ground, a phenomenon not yet recorded in ornithology books.
Is it an act of desperation or a graceful adaptation to reality where green cover and safety are both scarce to come by for the peahen? Once widely seen in India, the peafowl is now limited to certain pockets in India.
Prof. M.G.K Menon, President IIC in his keynote address quoted Gandhi’s prophetic words “ Nature gives enough for man’s needs but not enough
for man’s greed".
The nesting of the peafowl might have been an insignificant event but for the nature group’s efforts to bring it to focus and put it in perspective.
Prof. Menon was happy to see the group of nature lovers present in the hall, who braved the pulls of competing events around the neighborhood, to understand the problems faced by our National Bird. The hatching of the chicks in a precarious perch and
the subsequent care by the IIC staff on a call beyond duty shows the interdependence of man and nature. Taking inspiration from nature warriors of old like the "Chipko Women", the time has come for each one of us to become a nature warrior
in the situation he or she is placed in.
After the larger picture given by Prof. Menon, it was time to watch the story of Matari being documented as it is unfolding in the IIC lawns.
The story so far was superbly scripted and edited by the Bedi brothers in a short yet powerful film-‘Matari-Story of a Peahen’.
The delicate interaction of man and bird –the former wanting to protect and the latter accepting with grace help offered- was touching and thought provoking.
The future of our wildlife especially urban wildlife is dependent on man’s dispensations more and more.