WARNING: This story may distress some readers.
‘Pindar’ the peacock is the latest to be struck by a car on Finniss Crescent in Narrabundah and left for dead. The local community says enough is enough and are lobbying the government to ensure he didn’t die in vain.
Convenor of the Save the Narrabundah Peafowl Community, Timothy DeWan, likens Pindar to the ‘canary in the coal mine’, drawing attention to dangerous and inadequate roads in the area.
“We had another victim of speed and traffic congestion, where a bird the size of a five-year-old child was knocked over and left by the side of the road. And again, the government is doing nothing. Again, promises are made and there is no follow-up. We’re getting frustrated,” Mr DeWan said.
Pindar was struck on Monday (18 October) and is the sixth wild peacock killed by traffic in the last 12 months. Mr DeWan says that at the rate they’re going, the local population of 20-odd will be gone in a few years.
Their concern is for the peafowl and what it means for the children and elderly in the area.
“We have a lot of young children here and they can’t even cross the road without the risk of being run over. The elderly citizens who are in a number of places around here could also be in danger.”
The peafowl have wandered the streets and gardens of Narrabundah and Canberra’s north for over 30 years. The exact origin of the introduced species remains a mystery. The most common theories are that they either escaped from an embassy or a private zoo along Mugga Lane.
“It’s been suggested that the first peacock, named Henry, came across from that private zoo,” Mr DeWan says. “He was very lonely at first until a peahen came onto the scene and there must have been some love that night because a couple of months later, there were chicks.”
Henry was killed sometime later when a car mounted a kerb and struck him.
“Peafowl being killed by cars is not a new thing. We can only hope it’s not deliberate.”
Most of the collisions occur on the two major roads of La Perouse and Carnegie Crescent, near the local primary school.
Mr DeWan and other members of the Save the Narrabundah Peafowl group met with Transport Minister Chris Steel in March this year. Minister Steel said that a review of the situation would be undertaken.
Mr DeWan says it was then “nothing, nothing, nothing” until a few months later when a letter arrived confirming the review.
“Still nothing. It’s just been deadly quiet.”
Four signs were placed around the area back in 2019 warning of wildlife and Mr DeWan says the community is very grateful for these, but it isn’t enough.
The group would specifically like to see the speed limit in the area lowered to 40 km/h and some road markings and installations to slow drivers down.
“The point we’re trying to make is that these roads were designed in the 1950s and ’60s when Canberra was much smaller. We now have so many more people using these roads and the congestion levels and speed are much higher. It’s ridiculous some of the speeds we see, particularly on Carnegie Crescent.”
Mr DeWan says the birds are beautiful but also large and ungainly and are “just being taken out” because of this.
“We’re seeing the inner north and inner south of Canberra built up and built up with more and more new apartments, but the government is not putting money into the infrastructure. The impact on the roads and transport is not being addressed.
“We just really want the government to talk to us. We need to see action.”
A spokesperson for the ACT Government says they have commissioned a pedestrian safety study for La Perouse Street and Carnegie Crescent. A final draft is expected by the end of October.
“The study will investigate ways to prioritise safety for traffic, pedestrians and peafowl.”
The report was delayed due to the pandemic and conducted when there was less traffic on the roads. There are concerns the outcomes of any study conducted in recent months may not be representative of normal traffic conditions.
“The findings will be discussed with the Narrabundah community in coming weeks once the contents and recommended treatments have been considered,” the government spokesperson said.