Druggie Parrots Raid Opium Poppy Crop
In India, opium poppies are grown under strict government control. Each farmer’s yield is closely monitored to ensure that all of the poppy seeds which are harvested are delivered into the hands of the authorities.
Recently, many farmers have been receiving warnings from the narcotics department because their yields have been shrinking. But these farmers have not been channelling any of their crop into the hands of drug dealers. They have been losing seeds to poaching parrots who have developed a taste for the opiates!
The phenomenon was first reported by farmers in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan during 2015 but is now becoming an enormous problem further afield. The birds are growing more and more adept at stealing the seeds and are rapidly extending their activities to new areas of the country.
Outwitting the Farmers
The intelligent birds always seem to be able to outwit the farmers. They wait until the morphine-rich latex is exposed and then swoop down on the field in numbers to pinch the pods. The parrots strike in March and April when the seeds are cut by farmers, exposing the latex which contains the drug. This is then harvested and processed to produce heroin, if there is any left!
The parrots have learnt to fly silently over the poppy fields. Their normal behaviour would be to squawk as they fly when they travel in groups but they have adapted their technique to suit their poaching activities. They now start chirping after they have plundered the seeds! They keep watch on the farms’ activities so that they can time their visits to perfection.
The farmers have tried using fireworks and tin drums to scare off the birds and have even resorted to throwing stones. But nothing seems to work terribly well. The parrots have become desperate for their fix and their raids are increasing every year. Some farmers are now reporting a 10% drop in their yield which is enough to get them in trouble with the Government. They are now forced to spend hours in their fields every day to scare the birds away from their crops.
Who would have thought it? Drug raiding parrots! Whatever next?