In a recent survey done in Guwahati by conservation society Early Birds, the endangered Greater Adjutant Stork (or Hargilla) population was pegged at the ‘stable’ figure of 220. But according to local activists, habitat loss for the bird continues to be a pressing problem.
Written by | Guwahati | Updated: September 15, 2018 8:30:27 pm
In a recent survey done in Guwahati last week by conservation society Early Birds, the Hargilla population was pegged at 220.
While traffic jams in a city like Guwahati are commonplace, last year — a day before Diwali — the cause for a hold-up in GS Road was an unexpected one: a huge, gangly bird, seemingly lost among the din of cars and people as it tried to make sense of its new surroundings.
Before the concerned authorities could come rescue it, the bird — an endangered species called the Greater Adjutant Stork, locally known as the Hargilla — took off itself. However, for the stork, adapting to changing environs is something it has been compelled to do over the last few decades. As its natural habitat — wetlands (or beels) — disappear, the stork has taken to living in garbage dumps which dot the city of Guwahati, the biggest one behind the Guwahati Medical College.
For long, villagers would shun the stork, but today, conservation efforts by local organisations and activists have changed the its fate.
Ignored for years, recent media reports have extensively covered conservation efforts to protect Assam’s “ugly old bird” — at a height of five feet, with an eight-foot wing span, reports show that out of the 1,200 Hargillas in the world, about 800 are in Assam. It features in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species — in 1988, it was “threatened” but from 1994, it has been considered “endangered”. The decline goes back to the first half of the 20th century — but the bird can still be spotted parts of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam — and India, of course (mostly Assam and Bihar).