Drug-addicted parrots are stealing opium from poppy fields in India.

Farmers producing opium in the country say the birds are stealing so much of their crop that it could lead to them getting into trouble with the Indian Government’s narcotics department which monitors their activity. The parrots lie in wait during March and April and then swoop down when labourers slip open the pods of the poppies to speed up the ripening process.

The problem was first noticed in 2015 in Chittorgarh in Rajasthan but now it is spreading to more regions in India, including Madhya Pradesh. The parrots have even learnt not to squawk so the unsuspecting farmers don’t hear them coming.

Video footage has been recorded of the birds nibbling through the stalks and then taking the flower pods high into the trees where they can feast on the opium inside. The parrots then fall into a deep sleep, which has seen some of them plummet from high branches to their deaths.

The Indian Government’s narcotics department closely monitors how much each farmer is producing so the parrot thefts have led to some producers receiving official warnings.

Flock’s habit is affecting livelihoods

Opium farmer Sobharam Rathod, from Neemach, India, told The Mirror that he was warned by the government after parrots stole around a tenth of his total crop.

He said: “Usually, the parrots would make sound when in a group. 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.”

So far, farmers have tried using noise to deter the birds, including setting off firecrackers and banging tin drums. They have also tried throwing stones at the parrots but claim the problem is still getting worse.

Opium is the dried latex from the opium poppy, which contains morphine. It can be chemically processed to produce heroin as well as opioid prescription drugs. The latex also contains the opiate codeine, which is used as a painkiller.

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