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Marked decline in hargilla population in city

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 18 � The greater adjutant stork � called hargilla in Assamese � continues to be on a slippery ground with successive counts of the endangered bird showing a marked decline in its population in the city over the past decade.

Loss of habitat due to rapid urbanization has been cited as the biggest factor behind the slump in the population.

The latest census conducted in the city on October 16 recorded presence of 127 birds. Its population was 288 (2002), 207 (2003), 233 (2004), 247 (2005), 167 (2006), 118 (2007), 149 (2008), 147 (2009) and 113 (2010). The census covered 10 known roosting areas of the bird.

The global population of the greater adjutant stork is estimated to be around 900-1,000, with the Brahmaputra Valley alone accounting for over 700 of those.

Moloy Baruah of Early Birds which conducted the census said that the findings indicated a negative signal for the future of the largest winged species of the region.

�We found that the roosting places of the adjutant stork in the city have almost been wiped out due to rapid urbanization. A majority of the nests of the bird are located on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra, especially in areas like Mandakata, Suptaguri in North Guwahati, and Dadara and Singimari on the Hajo road. These areas have witnessed rampant felling of trees in recent times mainly due to fragmentation of families whereas tall trees in these areas once served as ideal places for building nests,� Baruah said.

Wildlife experts have also pointed out that with the wetlands in and around the city being filled up for construction activities, the greater adjutant storks are being robbed of the much-needed feeding ground for the chicks.

A case in point is the Dabaka Beel � which plays host to varied birdlife including open-billed storks in large numbers � at Bangara near LGB International Airport which is adjacent to the Ramsar Site Deepor Beel. Unfortunately, the State Government decided to hand over the area to a paramilitary force to raise its headquarters despite vehement opposition from environment protection groups and local people. Now the matter has reached the Gauhati High Court.

Baruah said that another traditional roosting ground behind the Ulubari market complex, too, had almost been filled up by the State Transport Corporation which had allowed a few former employees to settle there.

Local people from Ulubari area had earlier demanded of the DC, Kamrup (Metro) through a signature campaign to evict the settlers and make it a garden with tall trees. Efforts by Early Birds and the State Forest Department to plant suitable trees for the hargilla had gone in vain as all saplings were uprooted by miscreants.

Early Birds has also been urging the district administration to declare the area as a reserved wetland on various occasions so that protection can be ensured to the birds.

�We had also met the then Governor of Assam on August 23, 2008 at Raj Bhavan to get the matter settled with the State Government,� Baruah said, adding that Early Birds had planted a few simul trees at both the Muslim graveyard and at Girls� Polytechnic which were showing good results with the adjutant storks nesting.

Apart from protected forests, the hargilla has been recorded from urban areas like Nagaon, Tezpur, Sivasagar and Dibrugarh, besides Guwahati.

Those who participated in the current census included Moloy Baruah, Gautam Choudhury, Sheikh Noor Zaman, Tridib Sarma, Debanand Barua, Rajib Sarma and Alkesh Sham Kashyap.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)

Marked decline in hargilla population in city

GUWAHATI, Oct 18 � The greater adjutant stork � called hargilla in Assamese � continues to be on a slippery ground with successive counts of the endangered bird showing a marked decline in its population in the city over the past decade.

Loss of habitat due to rapid urbanization has been cited as the biggest factor behind the slump in the population.

The latest census conducted in the city on October 16 recorded presence of 127 birds. Its population was 288 (2002), 207 (2003), 233 (2004), 247 (2005), 167 (2006), 118 (2007), 149 (2008), 147 (2009) and 113 (2010). The census covered 10 known roosting areas of the bird.

The global population of the greater adjutant stork is estimated to be around 900-1,000, with the Brahmaputra Valley alone accounting for over 700 of those.

Moloy Baruah of Early Birds which conducted the census said that the findings indicated a negative signal for the future of the largest winged species of the region.

�We found that the roosting places of the adjutant stork in the city have almost been wiped out due to rapid urbanization. A majority of the nests of the bird are located on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra, especially in areas like Mandakata, Suptaguri in North Guwahati, and Dadara and Singimari on the Hajo road. These areas have witnessed rampant felling of trees in recent times mainly due to fragmentation of families whereas tall trees in these areas once served as ideal places for building nests,� Baruah said.

Wildlife experts have also pointed out that with the wetlands in and around the city being filled up for construction activities, the greater adjutant storks are being robbed of the much-needed feeding ground for the chicks.

A case in point is the Dabaka Beel � which plays host to varied birdlife including open-billed storks in large numbers � at Bangara near LGB International Airport which is adjacent to the Ramsar Site Deepor Beel. Unfortunately, the State Government decided to hand over the area to a paramilitary force to raise its headquarters despite vehement opposition from environment protection groups and local people. Now the matter has reached the Gauhati High Court.

Baruah said that another traditional roosting ground behind the Ulubari market complex, too, had almost been filled up by the State Transport Corporation which had allowed a few former employees to settle there.

Local people from Ulubari area had earlier demanded of the DC, Kamrup (Metro) through a signature campaign to evict the settlers and make it a garden with tall trees. Efforts by Early Birds and the State Forest Department to plant suitable trees for the hargilla had gone in vain as all saplings were uprooted by miscreants.

Early Birds has also been urging the district administration to declare the area as a reserved wetland on various occasions so that protection can be ensured to the birds.

�We had also met the then Governor of Assam on August 23, 2008 at Raj Bhavan to get the matter settled with the State Government,� Baruah said, adding that Early Birds had planted a few simul trees at both the Muslim graveyard and at Girls� Polytechnic which were showing good results with the adjutant storks nesting.

Apart from protected forests, the hargilla has been recorded from urban areas like Nagaon, Tezpur, Sivasagar and Dibrugarh, besides Guwahati.

Those who participated in the current census included Moloy Baruah, Gautam Choudhury, Sheikh Noor Zaman, Tridib Sarma, Debanand Barua, Rajib Sarma and Alkesh Sham Kashyap.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)