A conservation brigade of 70 villagers has created a safe haven for the endangered greater adjutant stork.
By Moushumi Basu
PUBLISHED AUGUST 15, 2016
DADARA, INDIA On a cloudy day in July, in a remote village in northeastern India, Charu Das excitedly imitates the awkward movements of a stork with her hands.
In a few months, the greater adjutant stork—called hargilla, which means "swallower of bones" in Sanskrit—will descend on this hamlet, situated in Assam's Brahmaputra Valley, to breed in large numbers.
"You will soon catch sight of this dark, quirky-looking bird, with large, thick bills, stalking over the beds of these wetlands or on the rain-soaked paddy fields in its typical military gait," Das says.
Dadara and two nearby villages, Pasariya, and Singimari, are flanked by food-rich wetlands and brimming with tall trees perfect for nesting. The region has become a major stronghold for this homely creature: Due mostly to deforestation and widespread development of wetlands, only between 800 and 1,200 greater adjutant storks remain in India and Cambodia, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.