'Opium-addicted' parrots terrorize Indian poppy farmers

"These opium-addicted parrots are wreaking havoc," Nandkishore, a local poppy cultivator said to NDTV.

March 3, 2019 20:23
2 minute read.
'Opium-addicted' parrots terrorize Indian poppy farmers

Parrots land on a tree in the morning at Khati Waas village in the northern Indian state of Haryana December 29, 2005. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A group of "opium -addicted" parrots in the Madhya Pradesh region of India have been terrorizing poppy farmers in recent months, creating a serious problem as the farmers have been experiencing monumental losses to their product during this cultivation season.

Isolated rainfall has currently caused a damper on this year's poppy product, however, the parrots are exponentially adding to the farmers distress, ruining the farmer's products in the process.

"These opium-addicted parrots are wreaking havoc," Nandkishore, a local poppy cultivator said to NDTV.

Farmers in the Neemuch district, in an attempt to soften the damage, have started using loudspeakers to try and scare the birds off and as well have contacted local authorities to attempt to find a solution to the problem. According to NDTV, the calls to the authorities have gone unanswered.

"We have tried making loud sounds and even use firecrackers to scare the birds. But nothing has helped," Nandkishore said. "We are already suffering because of uneven rain, and now this. Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate [us] for our losses?"

According to the cultivator, one poppy flower produces around 20-25 grams of opium each, however, the farmers are suffering from the parrots feeding on the plants up to 40 times a day with "some even flying away with poppy pods."

Cultivators have also resorted to guarding their fields day and night in order to curb the behavior of birds from creating anymore of a nuisance for the farmers.

"One poppy flower gives around 20-25 grams of opium. But a large group of parrots feed on these plants around 30-40 times a day and some even fly away with poppy pods. This affects the produce," the local poppy cultivator told NDTV, saying that the parrots have turned into a complete nuisance.

"The parrots wait until farmers slit open the opium poppy pods in order to ripen them, at which point they begin their attacks. In 2017 the government's narcotics department issued a warning about the drug-addicted birds, after opium theft started occurring in several different regions," IFLScience reported.

Parrots have been raiding poppy farms since 2015, when it was first reported by local farmers and has continued to this day.

"Usually, the parrots would make sound when in a group," a cultivator told British national tabloid The Mirror in 2017. "But these birds have become so smart that they don't make any noise when they swoop on the fields. The birds start chirping when they fly away with opium pods.

"We have tried every trick possible to keep the birds at bay but these addicts keep coming back even at the risk of their life," the farmer concluded.

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