The endangered Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) which was once well distributed in the South East Asia has witnessed a massive decline of its population and is currently known to breed only in Indian state of Assam and Cambodia.
Out of the estimated global population of about 800 birds (BirdLife International, 2010), about 600 have been found in Assam. The surviving population is under great threat because of destruction of feeding and breeding habitat.
Aaranyak initiated a community-based conservation project to conserve the population of the endangered stork species in Kamrup district of Assam on July 2009 . The project is being coordinated by Ms Purnima Devi Barman. It has elicited tremendous community support at Dadara village in the district. The project was initiated under an award from Conservation Leadership Programme and titled "Conservation initiatives for endangered Greater Adjutant Stork in Assam, India." The project period was from July 2009 to March 2011.
- Investigate the status of habitats in Kamrup District, Assam.
- Find out prey availability in the feeding grounds of the study area.
- Identify the frequently used foraging area during breeding and non breeding seasons.
- Study the intra and inter specific relation with other wader species in the foraging sites.
- Initiate conservation campaigns involving students and celebrities to attract involvement of community members.
Feeding habitat survey and foraging ecology: Different feeding habitats during breeding and non breeding seasons have been identified and a GIS map prepared showing feeding habitats. We undertook a study on foraging ecology of this species for eighteen months using methods like activity budgeting, occupancy, everyday count method and direct sighting.
Status survey: It was conducted in two different breeding seasons to find out the abundance of the species in Guwahati city. We have involved students of Handique Girls’ College in a particular phase of the study as part of their field work.
Nesting tree survey and nesting ecology: A door to door survey was carried out covering all nesting tree owners at Dadara village in Kamrup district to know about problems, if any, faced by them because of presence of the stork species. A questionnaire was used to know the opinions of nesting tree owners about the conservation efforts. GPS data of each of the nesting trees as well as non-nesting trees in the surrounding areas were recorded. Distance between the owner’s residence and the tree was measured while the DBH of the nesting and surrounding non nesting trees were documented. We also measured the distance between the nesting tree and the nearest wetland. Nesting ecology of the species is under study.
Awareness campaigns with youth and village leaders
Aaranyak in Collaboration with Transition Academy, Damdama organized an awareness programme in the premises of Transition Academy on biodiversity Conservation on December 8, 2009 highlighting the conservation issues of Greater Adjutant. One hundred and twenty local educated youths and village leaders participated in the programme. After being motivated in the programme, the youth set up a club named “Hargilla (local name for Greater Adjutant stork) conservation Group” to take a plunge in the conservation efforts.
Women of Dadara village have become so fond of the species that they have started weaving its motif in their looms to add value to their products that includes ‘gamocha’ (traditional Assamese towel). These beautifully designed ‘gamocha’s are now most sought after and sold at remunerative prices.
Campaign with women from nest tree owners’ family
The women of village were motivated towards conservation of the bird through slide shows, environment education games. They were enlightened about importance of this bird and the nesting trees in their village.
Felicitation of tree owners
“Tree owners you deserve high respect from the nation as you are protecting a highly endangered bird of the world”-- chanting this slogan 40 students of Sarala Birla Gyanjyoti School visited the nesting tree owners in Dadara village on February 2, 2010 on World Wetlands Day. They felicitated the tree owners with Gamochas (traditional Assamese towel), Coffee Mug and souvenirs made by themselves. They also met the school children of the village and offered to join their hands to save this bird.
Street show ‘to Save wetland, save Greater Adjutant’
Another batch of two hundred and eighty students and teachers from Sarla Birla Gyanjyoti School took part in a rally on World Wetland Day, 2010 in Gauhati University campus at Jalukbari, Guwahati to spread mass of awareness for protection of Greater Adjutant and the wetlands of Assam which are in the brink of extinction.
Students submitted a petition to Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metro) district and explained the need for Wetlands in the ecosystem.
They also pointed out how this globally important bird species is dependent on these wetlands.
Rehabilitation of Phaguni and Gahan
A two month old chick (Phaguni) which was rescued from its nesting colony and hand raised in Assam state Zoo for one month. It was later released back to a Dadara wetland successfully in its nesting area.
Another chick (Gahan) which fell off from the nest was also hand raised in village itself and released back to the its natural wetland habitat successfully. (EoM)
Kids for Greater Adjutant
Children of Sarala Birla Gyanjyoti and Shankardev Sishu Niketan, Dadara are roped in to work for Greater Adjutant Conservation in Dadara. They have joined hands to work together to motivate.
“Hargilla Dibash” (Greater Adjutant Day conservation)
Communities have decided to celebrate” Greater Adjutant Day” on world wetland day, 2nd February to spread the message of conservation to the world. The villagers will celebrate this day in their community centre.
- Conservation Campaign in city
- Rescue and release of dead chicks
- Boosting up the community, felicitating nest tree owners
- Conducting meeting amongst Top officials of Forest Departments and nest tree owners regarding their problems
- Introducing income generation sources
- Involving city students to approach Government
- Highlighting the Stories in Media houses