GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - In a big boost to greater adjutant stork conservation efforts at Dadara and the adjoining areas, BirdLife International has declared the Dadara-Pasariya-Singimari belt as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).
This area, which has witnessed a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the endangered greater adjutant stork (hargila) � thanks to the pioneering initiative by Purnima Devi Barman since the past one decade � comprises three adjacent villages in a semi-urban area on the city outskirts on the north bank of the Brahmaputra.
BirdLife International, in its recognition of the Dadara complex under IBA CRITERIA: A1 (Globally Threatened species), has acknowledged the community conservation efforts in the area.
�The area has the largest nesting colony of the endangered greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius). The villages have houses with tin/thatch/concrete roof and almost every household has a few trees in their compound. Greater adjutants build nests in these private village gardens. They prefer tall trees and mainly nest on Neolamarckia cadamba, Bombax ceiba, Artocarpus lacucha, Artocarpus heterophyllus, Pithecellobium monadelphum and Archidendron bigeminum. Sometimes, up to 15 nests are found on one tree,� it said.
While only 31 numbers of the greater adjutant stork � perhaps the most threatened stork in the world � were found in 15 trees in the area during a survey by ornithologist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury in March 2006, the birds colonised new trees and with the conservation movement gaining momentum, 152 successful nests were recorded in 2012-13.
According to Purnima, the average number of successful nests from 2009 to 2014 was 116.
Purnima said that the IBA recognition would be a big morale booster for the villagers engaged in adjutant stork conservation. �It is a recognition of the community conservation initiative. It will motivate the villagers more to sustain the conservation efforts,� she said.
BirdLife has noted that �thanks to the community work done by Purnima Devi Barman in the area, since 2010 not a single incident of cutting greater adjutant nesting trees has been reported and people have now accepted this species in their area.�
Significantly, a few white-rumped vultures (Gyps bengalensis) have also been recorded in the area, while the slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) � once plentiful � has not been seen in recent years. Both these species are listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red Data Book. The lesser adjutant stork � a vulnerable species � is also found in the nearby fields.
�Being a semi-urban area, not many mammals of conservation concern are found in this IBA. Only a few golden jackals (Canis aureus) and jungle cat (Felis chaus) are met with,� Birdlife notes.
An IBA is an area identified using an internationally agreed set of criteria as being globally important for the conservation of bird populations. The IBA was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife. Currently, there are over 12,000 IBAs worldwide. These sites are small enough to be entirely conserved and differ in their character, habitat or ornithological importance from the surrounding habitat.
BirdLife aims to identify, protect and manage a network of sites that are significant for the long-term viability of naturally occurring bird populations. Many sites are also important for other forms of biodiversity, so the conservation of IBAs ensures the survival of a correspondingly large number of other animals and plants.