Hakki Pikki: Caught In Sudan’s Civil War

Hakki Pikki: Caught In Sudan’s Civil War


  • The story of how the Hakki Pikki, or bird catchers, of Karnataka, became entangled in a civil war in Sudan is a modern narrative of migration, development, and the human drive to prosper.
  • The clan is now dispersed throughout Khartoum and the Darfur region of western Sudan. According to a few stranded members of the community, the overall number of people in the African country is believed to be approximately 300 people, including women and children. Around 250 of them are in Khartoum, while 33 are in Darfur, where a civil war has raged for many years.

Points to Ponder:

  • The Hakki Pikki tribe of Karnataka, India, has traditionally made a living by hunting birds and gathering forest food. However, since their forest home was being destroyed and bird numbers were diminishing, they turned to their traditional expertise to manufacture herbal treatments and hair oil.
  • They deployed emissaries to sell their items in Sudan, Gabon, and Cameroon, finding a ready market in the conflict-ridden Darfur region.
  • While their commercial enterprise was successful, they are now stuck and in danger, with members of the clan dispersed around Khartoum and the Darfur region in western Sudan.
  • More than a million people have been displaced as a result of the Darfur conflict, which has destroyed basic services such as hospitals. In this environment, the herbal solutions of Hakki Pikki became well known in Al Fashir, a region that has seen an inflow of people as a result of the crisis.
  • According to Rukmini Rao, founder of Hyderabad’s Gramya Resource Centre for Women, the Hakki Pikki are one of India’s most vulnerable tribes, marginalised and without access to education or public services.
  • Unfortunately, their cries for assistance have turned political, with former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah pressing the Indian government to intervene and take action to assist the tribe’s stranded members.

Hakki Pikki

  • Hakkipikki is a large tribal community in Karnataka, India.
  • The community is known as the “bird catchers” since “Hakki” means bird and “Pikki” means to catch in Kannada.
  • According to the 2001 census, the Hakkipikki community moved from Northern India and has a population of approximately 8,414 individuals.
  • They are primarily concentrated in the Karnataka districts of Shivamogga, Davanagere, and Mysuru.
  • In Karnataka, the community is also known as Haranashikari, Pashi pardhi, Adavichencher, and Shikari.
  • They speak a language called Vaagri, which is an Indo-Aryan language, and do business in Kannada. According to UNESCO, Vaagri is an endangered language.
  • The Hakki-Pikkis of Karnataka is well-known for their natural medicines. 
  • For a long time, the group lived in the deep woods and developed its plant and herb-based medicinal systems.
  • Traditional medicinal expertise held by the Hakki-Pikkis is in high demand in various African countries. As a result, members of the community have been migrating to the continent for many years.