Guwahati, Sunday, March 6, 2011
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Villagers check fall in adjutant stork population
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, March 5 – The highly-endangered greater adjutant stork – the rarest of the 20 species of storks in the world – has found a green ambassador in popular actress Prastuti Parashar who will be interacting with local villagers and schoolchildren at Dadara on its remarkable conservation endeavour through community participation.

Dadara has been witness to a unique saga of villagers stepping in to prevent the downward slide of the greater adjutant stork (hargila in Assamese) population. The habitat of the bird is now sacrosanct at Dadara, and this apart, the local community’s commitment is reflected in the efforts of the weavers who are busy spreading the message of conservation through the wonderful stork motifs on the traditional gamosa – a household item across the State.

“Weaving the motifs of the bird on the gamosa is a reminder to all the users that just about 800 adjutant storks are left on the planet, which need people’s support to survive. Awareness on the need to protect this unique bird is definitely growing with community participation,” Purnima Devi Barman of Aaranyak who has been behind the conservation efforts at Dadara, said.

Eighty per cent of the present global population of the bird is found in the Brahmaputra Valley, with Kamrup district accounting for 50 per cent of those. The three villages of Dadara, Posoria and Singimari shelter a healthy concentration of 280 birds.

“Now we are involving popular cine and theatre personality Prastuti Parashar in our conservation efforts. She will be interacting with villagers and children of the local Sankardev Sishu Niketan, Dadara, on March 7. We expect her star power to give a further boost to our conservation efforts,” Purnima said, adding that forest and district administration officials would also actively participate in the event.

As the storks build their nesting colonies on trees grown on private land, the threat to their existence becomes greater and conservation efforts remain a far cry sans active cooperation from the communities. Aaranyak started the conservation initiative at Dadara in 2009 with the objective of eliciting people’s cooperation in protecting the nesting colonies of the birds spread over numerous treetops in the area.

The Aaranyak initiative which is coordinated by Purnima is supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), UK. The CLP is a partnership of four organisations – Birdlife International, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Fauna and Flora International – working to promote the development of future biodiversity conservation leaders.

“Due to a sustained awareness campaign, the villagers at Dadara now take pride in the reality that their place is one of the last few bastions on the planet where this bird is thriving. They are aware that Dadara is an important spot on the map of global distribution of the greater adjutant stork,” she said, adding that of late an increasing nesting trend was conspicuous at Dadara.

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