Myanmar's Peacock: A National Symbol Dying Off In The Wild

Myanmar's peacock: a national symbol dying off in the wild

YANGON,(APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News -24th Augst,2016) - Embraced by kings and freedom fighters alike, Myanmar's peacocks have long been a national symbol of pride and resistance -- but they are becoming ever harder to spot in the wild. Ornithologist Thet Zaw Naing is worried.

Every year that goes by, Myanmar's national bird becomes a less familiar sight. "They always walk on the ground and they sleep in trees at night," he tells AFP. "And before they go to sleep, they always cry 'Oway Oway'.

That's why people can know easily where they are and easily capture them." Decades ago the birds, with their bright green plumage and famously ostentatious male tail feathers, were ubiquitous.

But like so many of Myanmar's most iconic flora and fauna, rampant poaching and habitat loss under decades of unaccountable junta rule has hit their numbers hard.

For Myanmar, the declining peacock population is more than just a conservation tragedy -- it's a blow to the national psyche. The bird occupies a lofty place in the country's culture.

For decades it was the official symbol of Burma's last kings, the Konbaung dynasty. Their monarchs wore peacock insignia on their robes and famously sat atop the Peacock Throne until their rule was toppled by British colonialists. During his fight against the British in the early twentieth century, independence hero Aung San -- the father of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi -- created a magazine named the "Fighting Peacock".

Years later, Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy adopted the same bird as their party emblem in their long years of struggle against military rule.