JORHAT, Sept 5 - In a sad development for bird lovers, over 150 hatchlings of Asian open bill stork died after two branches of two separate tress where the birds are nesting in the heart of the city, cracked and subsequently fell down to the ground below on Sunday and Monday, thereby crushing the newborns in the process.
One of the trees which had a safety net stretched above the ground by a few bird lovers two weeks back with an aim to protect the hatchlings, got partially damaged as it was ruptured by the weight of the falling branch.
However, the positive side of the incident is that 82 hatchlings were subsequently rescued by Forest Department staff along with the assistance of some local bird lovers.
Divisional Forest Officer (Jorhat) Sapan Saikia told The Assam Tribune that a big branch of a tree on the KK Baruah Road here, where the colony of Asian open bill stork are nesting for breeding purpose, fell to the ground and resulted in a large number of hatchlings falling down too.
Saikia said that as there was no net below that particular tree, the number of dead hatchlings was high, and only a few were found alive. He further informed that in Monday�s incident of falling down of another branch, the number of dead hatchlings was comparatively less as most of them fell into the net, and some to the ground, before the net was ruptured by the weight of the branch.
In both the cases, the hatchlings were collected by the Forest Department staff, who were aided by a few people of the locality and birds lovers. Saikia said that the hatchlings that were alive were then transported to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) at Borjuri near Kaziranga National Park.
The DFO estimated that over 250 birds had built their nests in a few trees about two months back. After the hatchlings were born, the number of birds increased substantially and subsequently led to a drastic increase in weight of the branches, which after being unable to bear the weight no longer, cracked and fell down to the ground below.
Firoz Hussain and Devajyoti Bora, both avid bird watchers of the region, had pooled their financial resources along with support from friends, had put up a safety net below one tree measuring around 900 square metres at a height of six feet above the ground so as to have a cushioning effect on the hatchlings if and when they fall down from the tress.
They had taken the initiative after they came to know from people of the area that several hatchlings had fallen to the ground from that particular tree almost every day and died.
The duo after approaching the Traffic Branch of the local police department had managed to get barricades placed in the area to prevent people and vehicles from passing through the netted area.
Incidentally, since the past few days, Firoz and Devajyoti are out of station due to some personal work. Firoz told this Correspondent from New Delhi that he was �pained� to know about the incident.
�May be due to overcrowding in those branches due to the birth of hatchlings in large numbers, the tragic incident took place.
As Devajyoti is out of Jorhat too, my associate Mustak Hussain along with his friends were assisting the Forest Department personnel since Sunday,� Firoz said.
Mustak said he managed to get the torn portion of the net repaired on Monday with the help of friends, and put up the net again. Asian open bill stork is a large resident wading bird found in the north-eastern region. They generally build nests on tall trees during the breeding season.