Environmentalists concerned over Adjutant storks' fate

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Guwahati, Aug 27 (UNI) One of the most crowded areas of Guwahati city is home to 117 birds of the Greater Adjutant Stork species, an endangered species in the world, whose total population in Assam is just over 800.

Several environmentalists are now trying to spread awareness on the plight of these birds and have also urged Assam Governor Shiv Charann Mathur to contribute to the campaign to save their lives.

The International Union Of Conservation Of Nature (IUCN), International Wetland Research Bureau (IWRB) Specialist Group on Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill (SIS) and International Council Of Bird Preservation (ICBP) have declared the Greater Adjutant Stork as first priority species for conservation, Moloya Barua, of the Early Birds, informed.

''The species are already gradually disappearing from Northern India, Nepal, Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Southern Vietnam and Thailand. However, fortunately a few breeding pairs and a small population still survives in Assam, particularly in the Brahmaputra valley. Assam, thus, remains the last stronghold for the species in the world,'' he said.

The highest number of Assam's estimated 800-strong population of the storks roost in Guwahati. There were only 136 breeding pairs in 1992-93 in Assam as reported by the Animal Ecology and Wild Life Biology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Guwahati University in 1994.

Unless immediate protection measures are taken in Assam, these species will also be included in the mushrooming list of extinct birds, Mr Baruah said.

''There are around 150-175 storks in the city. They mainly feed on garbage and perform the task of scavengers. Hazo (Dadara) and Mandakata in Guwahati are the places where nesting has been recorded,'' he informed.

''Our organisation regularly monitors movement of storks in the city. The stork population in and around Guwahati has been diminishing alarmingly. The city had a total number of 288 storks in 2002, which reduced to 207 in 2003 and marginally increased to 233 in 2004. In the subsequent years, a dim picture was revealed with 247 in 2005 and 167 in 2006 which came to an all-time low of 118 in September 2007,'' he said.

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