Goa threatens to list India's treasured peacocks as vermin

MUMBAI (AFP) - India's popular tourist state of Goa has ruffled a few feathers with its proposal to reclassify the national bird the peacock as vermin, making them easier to cull, reports said on Friday (Feb 12).

The move comes just weeks after Goa's legislative assembly caused similar consternation when it ruled that the resort state's beloved coconut trees were not in fact trees, but palms.

"We have listed several wild species including wild boar, monkey, wild bison (Gaur), peacock as nuisance animals," the Press Trust of India quoted Goa's agriculture minister Ramesh Tawadkar as saying.

"These animals are creating (a) problem for farmers and are destroying their cultivation in rural areas," he told reporters on Thursday evening, according to the PTI report.

The colourful peacock is India's national bird and is protected under the country's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

But animal rights groups fear the Goa government's proposal to reclassify the peacock as a "nuisance animal" is intended to make it easier to cull the birds.

"Goa seems to be trying to... (have) India's national bird labelled this way so that they may be hunted and killed," Poorva Joshipura, the CEO of Peta India, told AFP.

"If Goa wants to remain on the tourist map, people expect it to be a paradise for animals too," she added.

Last month, opposition politicians in Goa reacted with outrage after the state government reclassified the coconut tree as a palm because it doesn't have any branches.

Officials said it was necessary to remove the coconut from the list of protected trees to make it easier to fell "economically unviable" and dangerous trees, and replace them with newer ones.

But opponents fear it means that large swathes of coconut trees could be chopped down to clear space for development.