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    Greater Adjutant Stork

    Indian Biologist Succeeds at Endangered Stork Breeding Attempt

    © Photo : Purnima Devi Barman
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    Only 1,200 of the greater adjutant storks survive in the world, out of which 700-800 are found in India’s northeast, according to the Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Earlier this year, more than two dozen greater adjutant storks were found dead in Guwahati, Assam.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — In what could be a landmark in the conservation efforts of the endangered greater adjutant storks, a pair has laid eggs on an artificial nest atop a high bamboo platform in India's northeastern state of Assam.

    The scavenger birds, locally called "Hargila" were earlier scorned upon by locals who destroyed their habitats and poisoned them, as they believed the birds were a harbinger of bad luck. But after years of efforts by biologist Purnima Devi Barman and her "Hargila Army" of local women, the people are now gradually learning to coexist with the birds that play a major role in balancing the ecosystem.

    The greater adjutant stork is characterized by a large, dull-orange thick bill and gray, black and white plumage. The bird makes its nesting colonies mostly atop trees in human habitations. Because they leave carcasses in their nests, sometimes dropping them off into houses inhabited by locals, people often destroyed their nests causing their numbers to plummet. But with their successful adaptation to the artificial nests built on bamboo platforms, Barman is convinced that the stork population will soon increase.

    This is the first successful effort to conserve the stork species, only 1,200 of which are left in the world.

    "This is for the first time in the world that such an in-situ initiative involving an artificial platform for endangered bird Hargila has been undertaken, and the target species has started using it immediately after two months of construction," biologist Purnima Devi Barman, who is spearheading the conservation effort, told Sputnik.

    "Nesting trees are limiting factors for this species. In the villages I am working; seven old nesting trees fell due to natural calamities. So, I immediately tried this experiment," Barman added.

    Purnima Devi Barman says she is elated at the success and intends to carry forward the project in other areas.

    "The idea was that in case if we are successful, we can replicate this in other areas where nesting trees are limiting factors. This needs time; so next year if we have enough support, we can do it in a holistic way to assist the population. Hargila is on the brink of extinction so it's high time for the government to support this species," Barman, said.

    Purnima Devi Barman is the recipient of the Whitley Awards, dubbed as the "Green Oscars" given by the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), in recognition of contributions to wildlife conservation made outside the developed world.


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