The army. Picture by Aaranyak
Dadara, Feb. 17: It's an army without arms. "Armed" with the commitment to conserve greater adjutant storks, 14 women self-help groups of Dadara village in Kamrup district have formed a " hargila army", under the leadership of NGO Aaranyak's greater adjutant stork project team.
The aim of the "army" is to remove all obstacles that come in the way of conservation of these storks.
Greater adjutant stork is locally known as hargila. The number of greater adjutant storks is only 1,200 at present, of which, 80 per cent are found in Assam.
The families of Dadara have adopted the rare stork species, which is on the brink of extinction, as their own.
Dadara is 25km from Guwahati. An official of Aaranyak said finding a way to create awareness for hargila conservation while also fin-ding a route for self-empowerment was one of the biggest challenges in conservation.
The State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD) has stepped forward with a helping hand and sponsored a four-month training for the women at the Fashion Institute of Sualkuchi.
"It is an opportunity which they could not envisage even a few months ago," the official added.
Commissioner of panchayat and rural development department K.K. Dwivedi said women in Dadara were now on a new path of empowerment and conservation.
"The training at the Fashion Institute of Sualkuchi is the first step towards creating a hargila centre at Dadara. With the sale of these textiles, the families of Dadara will be able to continue their crusade for hargila conservation and also become economically self-reliant." Dwivedi also urged the women to plant at least five trees to increase nesting space for the storks.
Purnima Devi Barman of Aaranyak has been leading the work on greater adjutant storks, while the Kamrup district administration has been a staunch supporter of the campaign and has donated 100 hoardings with messages of hargila conservation on them.
Kamrup (rural) deputy commissioner Vinod Seshan said the district administration was ready to provide help to facilitate conservation of greater adjutant storks.
The hargila tableau on Republic Day parade in Assam was a huge success, as was the plantation drive to create more nesting space for the storks.
Experts say the bird's habitat has been greatly impacted by human development. A number of historical colonies have decreased or disappeared, heightening the importance of monitoring and conservation efforts to protect this species and its habitat.
SIRD distributed handloom machines and yarn to the " hargila army" at Dadara yesterday.