GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - A day-long census of the Greater Adjutant Storks has recorded 22 findings amidst worries that the habitats of this rare bird species are fast vanishing from the outskirts of the city.
The census was conducted by Early Birds, an NGO working in the field of forest and wildlife, for the 18th consecutive year in the city and on its outskirts. Some areas on the city outskirts are known roosting places of these birds.
"It is an interesting phenomenon that in places where these birds were seen ten or twelve years ago, not a single could be traced now. This is because of the continuous change of their roosting places primarily due to the availability of food. Areas around the Borchala-Soruchala Beel, areas between the Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and the SOS Village School, Machkhowa graveyard, and even the Silsako Beel in the Borbari area have lost the proud privilege of hosting these carrion eater birds," said Moloy Baruah of Early Birds.
Altogether 287 birds, the highest number was recorded in 2002, and in 2010, their number was 113, the lowest so far in the past census. In all, 185 storks were found in the 2017 census.
The bird's reproduction session, which is normally confined between October and March, also changes slightly depending upon the temperature variation or the climate changes.
"We are trying to create awareness about this rare bird species so that it can be saved from being wiped out. The scarcity of food and shelter is the main reason behind the dwindling population of Greater Adjutant Stork in the city. Nesting places of these birds are found on the other side of the Brahmaputra along the Hajo road near Dodora and Singimari villages and at Mandakata and Suptaguri villages in North Guwahati," Baruah said.
Singimari and its adjacent areas have witnessed rampant felling of tall trees in the recent past. In 2006, Early Birds found 11 nests at Rangmahal in five trees and five nests in two trees at Mandakata. These trees were felled at least three years back. The same area had more than 50 nests till 1991-92.
Greater Adjutant Storks keep away from the reproduction process until it is assured of sufficient supply of food like frogs, small fishes, snail, etc. to its offspring.
Dr Monoranjan Choudhury, Debananda Barua, Pranjal Choudhury, Gautam Choudhury, Monorama Das, Monipadma Borthakur, MI Borboruah, Naba Talukdar, Bapan Talukdar, Amiya Das, Bhabesh Goswami and Rakesh Kumar Deka, a GU student, also participated in the census exercise.