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September 11, 2015

Protect Palapitta Birds from Cruelty ahead of Dusshera Festival, HSI/India Urges Telangana Authorities

Poachers typically starve and immobilize the wild birds for display during the Hindu festival

Humane Society International/India

  • A palapitta, also known as a blue jay, confined in cage during the 2014 Dusshera festival in India. HSI/India

  • Palapitta birds, also known as blue jays, confined in cage during the 2014 Dusshera festival. HSI/India

Humane Society International/India is urging Telangana officials to crack down on the cruel capture and trade of the Palapitta (also known as the Indian roller or blue jay). Poachers and traders take advantage of the common belief that the sighting of Palapittas is a lucky omen during the Hindu festival of Dusshera. Poachers typically capture the birds a month before the festival, tie their legs with thread, trim their wings and stick them with glue to prevent them from flying. The birds are usually starved up till the day of Dusshera and kept in small cages for public viewing. Most of these birds die in captivity or immediately after being released.

In response to a letter sent by HSI/India, Telangana’s Department of Animal Husbandry called on the state’s Director General of Police, State Forest Department and State Animal Welfare Board to work in tandem and take necessary actions to strictly monitor the illegal capture and trade of Palapitta, which is the state bird of Telangana.

C Samyukta, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India, said, “Despite its status as the state bird of Telangana, Palapittas continue to suffer tremendous cruelty at the time of Dusshera. This year with the collaboration of the State Forest Department and now with the support of the State Animal Husbandry Department, we hope to ensure that no bird is tortured for the sake of superstition. Wild birds are meant to be in the wild. We urge the people of Telangana to celebrate a cruelty-free Dusshera this year.”

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During Dusshera, many devotees pay hefty sums of money to buy these captured birds from local markets and release them as a good deed which they believe will absolve of their sins. These birds are often sold or placed outside temples for viewing during Dusshera. 

HSI/India, in collaboration with the State Forest Department has initiated an extensive awareness drive, including a tip line to report cases of cruelty, urging the people of Telangana to stop participating in this regressive and cruel practice.


  • In 2014, the Palapittas were declared the ‘State Bird of Telangana’. They are also the state bird of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa
  • Palapittas are an ecologically important species as they help control pests in farm land
  • This species is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which makes its capture, hunting and trade an illegal activity punishable with a fine of Rs. 25,000/-or an imprisonment for up to three years or both
  • In the past, the local authorities have conducted raids and confiscated birds from temples and the Murgi Chowk market, but this has not had a lasting effect


Media Contact: Navamita Mukherjee, nmukherjee@hsi.org, 91-9985472760