MIRZA, Oct 22 � The tall claims of the Government and a section of NGOs of successful conservation of the endangered wildlife species in Assam have fallen flat on its face with the indiscriminate poaching of the greater adjutant stork showing no signs of a slowdown and the destruction of its habitat has become a serious cause of now.
Sources said that a team of MAN & WILD � a conservation group of Assam recovered a carcass of an adult greater adjutant stork on Sunday under a nesting kadam tree owned by Hemanta Sarma of Pacharia near Dadara in Kamrup district during a survey operation of the species by the NGO.
�The bird is believed to be poisoned and is yet to be examined by research laboratories, especially the State Veterinary College to uncover the exact cause of death of the adult bird,� said an official of the MAN & WILD, requesting anonymity.
The greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius) is a very large bird (145-150 cm) of Assam, largely living in the non-protected areas and presently the population of this species is showing a declining trend all over the globe and it is on the verge of extinction. It is classified as endangered and requires more importance in conservation measures than what is given to rhinos in Assam.
Sources said that there are only 800-1200 individuals of the bird, one of the largest birds on the earth identified by a distinctive loose neck pouch, pinkish bare head, a thick yellow bill and a huge dark body. Around 80 per cent (600-800 individuals) of the bird�s total population is along the Brahmaputra valley in Assam. The remaining small population of the species is scattered in the south Asian countries namely Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, etc . The species is also sighted in neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal and Bihar due to short migration from Assam.
According to an official of MAN & WILD, a huge nesting colony of the species, classified as endangered by IUCN red list of threatened species, has been reported in the Dadara-Pacharia area of Kamrup district, which has not been regularly monitored and conserved by the Assam Forest Department and other agencies so far. And hence, the Dadara nesting colony of the species has been shrinking day by day resulting in a rapid decline of the species, he said.
Sources said that every year, greater adjutant storks come to Dadara-Pacharia area to breed and they build nests on the simul, kadam, chatiana trees of the area. But, a large number of birds � adults and nestlings, die every year and the Government and the conservation groups have failed to protect the storks from dying and efforts should be made to prevent those deaths the destruction of their habitats. Besides, the number of nesting trees at Dadara area are getting reduced day by day due to their large-scale felling and steps need to be taken for protection of the nesting trees.
Sources said that the nestlings (chicks) die after falling from the nests built on the tree top when bordoisila (violent storms which come in March-April) sweeps through their nests. A large number of nestlings die or get injured during March-April every year at Dadara area when they fall from the tree tops. MAN & WILD has observed that treatment of the injured adults and nestlings is a major issue now as there is not a single greater adjutant stork rescue centre at Dadara area and the NGO has called upon the Government to immediately set up such a centre at Dadara village to rescue and treat the birds.
Appealing for the urgent need of protection of the wetlands near the famous nesting colony at Dadara-Pacharia area of Kamrup district, the official of the MAN & WILD said that the greater adjutant stork mainly feeds on frogs, reptiles, fishes, carrion, crustaceans and other living things which live in the wetlands and destruction of the wetlands has hampered the conservation process.