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Artificial nest for endangered hargila paying off

By SIVASISH THAKUR
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DADARA (KAMRUP), Dec 14 - The greater adjutant stork conservation saga in Dadara village on the city outskirts has got another boost with the globally endangered bird successfully adapting to an artificial nest atop a high bamboo platform.

This is the first time that the greater adjutant stork � locally known as hargila � has adapted to an artificial platform. Significantly, a pair of the adjutant storks has built a nest on it and the female is seen incubating her eggs.

�This is for the first time in India that such an in-situ initiative involving an artificial platform for any endangered bird has been taken, and the target species has started using it immediately after two months of construction,� Purnima Devi Barman, Green Oscar winner and the pioneer of the Dadara conservation, said.

Given the worrisome trend of tall nesting trees of the greater adjutant disappearing rapidly, the artificial raised platform (machan) has enhanced its future survival prospects.

�In Assam, the bird makes its nesting colonies mostly in privately-owned nesting trees in human habitations. At Dadara, Pacharia and adjoining areas many nesting trees were cut down by villagers while some were destroyed by natural causes like storms. Many historical breeding colonies of the bird in Assam have disappeared in the process,� she said.

Purnima added that as nesting tree was a limiting factor and seven nesting trees naturally fell down this year, she immediately tried the experiment. �We tried this with limited resources, but now I am confident that we can expand this initiative next year. Many other conservationists can also try this in case of other endangered species,� she said.

Prof Dhiren Kumar Sharma, a former teacher of Gauhati University with whom Purnima is doing behavioural and some part of molecular research of the species, echoed her feelings.

�This has been an innovative initiative and is showing good results. This may hold the answer to securing a sustainable hargila population across the State, especially in areas where nesting colonies have vanished,� he said.

The Kamrup district administration, too, has supported the �save hargila� campaign for the past few years, donating nets for protecting young birds that often fell off trees, and hoardings with messages of hargila conservation, besides arranging community meetings.

�Dadara has been witness to a remarkable success story of conservation with community participation, especially women. We are trying to assist it in the manner we can. We expect this conservation model to be emulated elsewhere,� Kamal Baishya, Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup, said.

Aaranyak, a conservation NGO celebrated the breeding season of the hargila through a �happy hatching ceremony� with the villagers a few days ago.

The current global population of the greater adjutant is just about 1,200, with Assam harbouring about 700 to 800 of the species. The greater Dadara-Pacharia-Singimari area together with the nearby wetlands shelters some 450 birds. Much of the credit for this unique conservation saga goes to the womenfolk of Dadara who have persisted with their endeavour to conserve the bird despite the heavy odds confronting them.

The conservation initiative recently added another feather to its cap by forming an �Army of Women� to protect the bird and its habitat. The all-women army, among other things, is blending tradition with conservation to ensure that the legacy of the conservation saga endures while they, too, get empowered economically.

�Now we are making the hargila an intrinsic part of our culture and heritage by weaving its motif on garments, including the famed Sualkuchi silk,� Charu Das of the local conservation committee, said.

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Artificial nest for endangered hargila paying off

DADARA (KAMRUP), Dec 14 - The greater adjutant stork conservation saga in Dadara village on the city outskirts has got another boost with the globally endangered bird successfully adapting to an artificial nest atop a high bamboo platform.

This is the first time that the greater adjutant stork � locally known as hargila � has adapted to an artificial platform. Significantly, a pair of the adjutant storks has built a nest on it and the female is seen incubating her eggs.

�This is for the first time in India that such an in-situ initiative involving an artificial platform for any endangered bird has been taken, and the target species has started using it immediately after two months of construction,� Purnima Devi Barman, Green Oscar winner and the pioneer of the Dadara conservation, said.

Given the worrisome trend of tall nesting trees of the greater adjutant disappearing rapidly, the artificial raised platform (machan) has enhanced its future survival prospects.

�In Assam, the bird makes its nesting colonies mostly in privately-owned nesting trees in human habitations. At Dadara, Pacharia and adjoining areas many nesting trees were cut down by villagers while some were destroyed by natural causes like storms. Many historical breeding colonies of the bird in Assam have disappeared in the process,� she said.

Purnima added that as nesting tree was a limiting factor and seven nesting trees naturally fell down this year, she immediately tried the experiment. �We tried this with limited resources, but now I am confident that we can expand this initiative next year. Many other conservationists can also try this in case of other endangered species,� she said.

Prof Dhiren Kumar Sharma, a former teacher of Gauhati University with whom Purnima is doing behavioural and some part of molecular research of the species, echoed her feelings.

�This has been an innovative initiative and is showing good results. This may hold the answer to securing a sustainable hargila population across the State, especially in areas where nesting colonies have vanished,� he said.

The Kamrup district administration, too, has supported the �save hargila� campaign for the past few years, donating nets for protecting young birds that often fell off trees, and hoardings with messages of hargila conservation, besides arranging community meetings.

�Dadara has been witness to a remarkable success story of conservation with community participation, especially women. We are trying to assist it in the manner we can. We expect this conservation model to be emulated elsewhere,� Kamal Baishya, Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup, said.

Aaranyak, a conservation NGO celebrated the breeding season of the hargila through a �happy hatching ceremony� with the villagers a few days ago.

The current global population of the greater adjutant is just about 1,200, with Assam harbouring about 700 to 800 of the species. The greater Dadara-Pacharia-Singimari area together with the nearby wetlands shelters some 450 birds. Much of the credit for this unique conservation saga goes to the womenfolk of Dadara who have persisted with their endeavour to conserve the bird despite the heavy odds confronting them.

The conservation initiative recently added another feather to its cap by forming an �Army of Women� to protect the bird and its habitat. The all-women army, among other things, is blending tradition with conservation to ensure that the legacy of the conservation saga endures while they, too, get empowered economically.

�Now we are making the hargila an intrinsic part of our culture and heritage by weaving its motif on garments, including the famed Sualkuchi silk,� Charu Das of the local conservation committee, said.

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