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Twenty-three peacocks were found dead at a farm in Seruna village in Bikaner after they consumed poison-laced grains, police said. A farmer has been arrested for poisoning the grains to prevent crop damage.

According to forest and police officials, the farmer, Dinesh Singh Chamar, had sown vegetable seeds in his farm. To prevent peacocks and other birds from eating the seed, he left grains laced with poison around the nursery, said assistant sub conservator of forest Iqbal Singh.

Late on Monday, villagers found peacock plumes strewn around the farm. On looking around the farm, they found the carcasses of 23 adult male peacocks. A number of pigeons and rats were also found dead near the farm. The villagers then informed the forest officials.

The officials secured the carcasses and sent them for post-mortem, which confirmed that the cause of death was poisoning. Dinesh was later arrestedunder sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. Dinesh told officials that the birds were damaging the crops in the village.

While forest officials have ordered a probe into the incident, it is suspected that the birds came to the fields in search of food during sowing season, which is also the time when farmers sprinkle pesticide.