The International Union for Conservation of Nature has included Bihar in the list of places, for an increase in the number of greater adjutants in the state.
“It is for the first time that Bihar has figured in the list. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of birds prepared in 2008, the global population of greater adjutant was estimated between 800 and 1,000. However, the revised list of 2013 shows a rise in their numbers, pegged at between 800 and 1,200. The honour is in recognition of the growing population of this stork species in Bihar over the past few years,” said Arvind Mishra, the state co-ordinator, Indian Bird Conservation Network.
IUCN is a global apex body working in the field of bird conservation, while the Red List is a documentation of birds identified as threatened species. The list is prepared with contribution by BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for birds.
The global population of the greater adjutant for 2013 is based on estimates of 650 to 800 birds in Assam, another 150 to 200 species in Cambodia, and at least 156 in Bihar.
Mishra claimed that the population of greater adjutant in Bihar has increased from 156 in 2008 to over 300 in 2011. “Though the number of birds in Bihar is around 300, IUCN took into account the population in 2008 while preparing the list,” said Mishra.
The greater adjutant is considered to be the tallest species of storks, which is mainly concentrated in Kosi flood plains of Bihar. A fragmented population of this bird is also found in Gangetic flood plains, towards the south of Ganga.
Outlining the favourable habitat for the birds, Mishra said: “It mostly prefers places having large trees near water bodies, where it can easily find food. It feeds on fish, snakes, rats, frogs and a few smaller birds as well. One of the most favoured locations for the greater adjutant in Bihar is Kadwa and Khairpur panchayat in Bhagalpur district.”
Experts from other places in the country have also hailed the rising population of the greater adjutant in Bihar.
“It is really appreciable that bird watchers like Arvind Mishra in Bhagalpur have motivated the villagers not to kill the species. It is the curtailment on poaching that has naturally led to an increase in their numbers through breeding activities,” said Hillol Jyoti Singha, assistant professor, wildlife ecology, biodiversity conservation, Assam University.
Several other experts claimed there is still a long way to go for conservation of this endangered bird. “The number of greater adjutant was in several thousands but now it has been reduced to a few hundreds. Though it is appreciable that poaching has been reduced by means of community participation, it is still endangered and much more needs to be done for its conservation,” said Asad Rahmani, the director of the Bombay Natural History Society, one of the largest non-government organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research.
According to observations made by BirdLife International, the population of the greater adjutant is suspected to be decreasing very rapidly owing to various reasons, including direct exploitation and habitat destruction by ways of lowland deforestation and felling of its nest-trees, pollution and over-exploitation of wetlands.