A Conservation Women Brigade to Save Rare Bird in India
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A Conservation Women Brigade to Save Rare Bird in India




Hargilla Army, a conservation brigade of 70 local women of Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley has been successful in reducing fear and protecting the habitat of the greater adjutant stork known as Hargilla, which means “swallower of bones” in Sanskrit.

 

Dadara in Assam and two nearby villages are flanked by food-rich wetlands and packed with tall trees which are perfect for nesting for the storks. Since these birds are so large nearly 8kgs and live in populated areas, trees have to be strong enough to hold them and their nests. However, most tall, strong trees grow on private lands, so locals used to often cut down the trees to get rid of the stork.

 

Hargilla army members worked with the local community to conserve these birds. They organized informal meetings with the local people and informed them about the bird’s role in the environment. They also highlighted the importance of the bird in the Hindu mythology, as Lord Vishnu’s mount.

 

After the families of the village were convinced to save the nesting trees, the people developed a sense of ownership and since 2010 no one has cut down a tree. As per the study led by a wildlife biologist around 550 of these big birds live in three villages. This kind of large number of nests has not been recorded in other parts of India or in Cambodia.

 

Hargilla Army has won the United Nations Development Program India’s 2016 Biodiversity Award for its effort.


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