GUWAHATI, Oct 4 � Early Birds, a nature organisation that has been associated with greater adjutant stork (known as hargilla locally) counting since 2002 in and around Guwahati city, has recorded 227 individuals in the latest census conducted on September 28.
Last year, its census yielded 158 individuals.
During the 13 years of bird census, the highest number � 288 birds � was recorded in 2002. The lowest number was found in 2010, with a count of 113 birds.
�Rapid urbanisation in North Guwahati and other parts of the north bank of the river Brahmaputra is giving all animals and birds a tough time. With the division of family and consequent fragmentation of land holding, a majority of rural people are first losing their backyard compound comprising a large number of indigenous trees � consequently effecting the nesting sites,� Moloy Baruah, president of Early Birds, said.
Pointing out that all garbage dumping sites were roosting place for the greater adjutant stork as it was a scavenger bird, Baruah said that hargilla were often found dead at the edge of water, full of water hyacinth at the city�s Boragaon dumping site as they get exposed to rotten food mixed with insecticide.
�Greater adjutant storks and other water birds are also sometimes seen dead at the site due to snake bites and other possible reasons. Although there is a feeble attempt by the municipal authorities to prepare manure from the garbage, this hardly matters as a large volume of garbage is used for filling up the nearby wetlands and lowlands. This endeavour on the part of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation is almost a failure, as they have not succeeded in reducing the high level of pollution at the dumping site,� Baruah said.
There was another feeble attempt by the State Forest Department in 2003 to address the concerns of the greater adjutant stork population when a discussion took place at the State Zoo Herbarium in the presence of other stakeholders, but no further follow-up was done.
The greater adjutant stork population all over the world is not more than 1,200 to 1,300, of which Assam alone accounts for 60 per cent.
Early Birds had planted simul trees at various places such as graveyards, Girls� Polytechnique, Khamranga beel at Thakurkuchi, Ulubari market and Satgaon village at North Guwahati to facilitate shelter of the bird since 2003.
�Some of them grew up sufficiently, but due to lack of cooperation from the authorities concerned, many trees had been removed in order to use the land for other reasons, which defeated the organisation�s purpose. Shortage of fingerlings in the beels has become a main hindrance towards breeding of the greater adjutant stork species. If things remain static, it will not take much time when Assam will part with this species, as had happened in Kolkata,� Baruah added.
Those who participated in the census were Moloy Baruah, Rana Das, Amiya Das, Birendra Nath Gayan, Rajib Goswami, Tridib Sarma, Amiya Das, Zafor Ali, Sheikh Noor Zaman, Gautam Choudhury, Asam Kashyap and Dr Monoranjan Choudhury.