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A Fair Man Among The Fowl

He's not as proud as a peacock, but is a man after its heart. Quietly tending to the ill among the flock.

A Fair Man Among The Fowl
Parish Joshi
A Fair Man Among The Fowl
There are many ways a sick nation is treated and Naranbhai Karangia, of Jamnagar’s Kennedy village, has taken it upon himself to treat our national avian emblem. He is, hold your breath, a peacock doctor. If a peacock is ill, Naranbhai is never far away.

And he operates in a radius of 200 km of this nondescript village. An indisposed bird is his first priority. The moment he learns about any such case, he sets aside whatever he is doing, starts his motorcycle and rushes to the aid of the bird or birds in need. There’s one incident he can’t particularly forget. When the Sindhani dam overflowed two years ago resulting in floods, "as many as 40 peacocks had perched themselves upon a tree and were trapped there". Says Naranbhai: "And survival instinct ensured the peacocks, a cat, a rat snake and a krait, all remained trapped together on the tree and none harmed the other. I saved over a dozen peacocks. I arranged for boats through local government offices, hired a truck to bring the boats and spent two days looking for marooned birds and saved them".

Naranbhai, one can say with absolute ease, is a one-man medical corps dedicated to the health of the national bird. So, very often you can see him administering vitamin drops to a sick bird or bandaging a wounded bird and then tending to it. Calls come in on his mobile and he rushes off from one village to the other. If the bird in distress can’t be left in the wild, he brings it home. But, normally, he would rather only set the healing process in motion and leave the birds to themselves. Of course, he keeps visiting them every once in a while to find out how the patient is progressing.

A farmer with a moderate land holding, Naranbhai sets up temporary peacock centres for about three months after the monsoons when the fields have been harvested and the birds have few avenues for food. The centres are opened in about seven to eight villages where there is a sizeable peacock population.

At these centres, Naranbhai takes grain from his farm and whatever little he has received as donation. The grain is put into large earthen pitchers which are then kept in open spaces for the birds to come and feed. "Last season, I opened nine centres which catered to about 1,000 peacocks, but this year I could open only one in Pindhara village where 350 to 400 peacocks come every morning to eat." This year, Naranbhai doesn’t have much grain and there have been no donations. However, he’s happy that in every village he goes to, people come out to help him feed the peacocks and take care of them even in his absence. Says he: "Ultimately, it is the volunteers who take care of the birds. I can’t be physically present everywhere."

Naranbhai and his family have no complaints that he’s spending most of his time, effort and money on peacocks. Nor is he perturbed that donations are few and far between. "Paucity of resources doesn’t bother me. My intention is to rescue and look after the peacocks to the best of my capacity," he says. The only grouse he has is that the peacock population may be dwindling in Gujarat. Reason: lack of proper care, constraints of breeding and hunting despite it being a national bird.

He can be contacted at: Village Kennedy, P.O. Kennedy, 361 315, taluka Kalyanpur, Jamnagar district, Gujarat. Cellphone: 94262-89192.

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