BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 17: As everyone is waiting in anticipation for the festival of colours, a life today found itself enjoying the true hues of freedom in Guwahati.
Little Diya spread her wings to join around 300 feathered friends at Boragaon garbage dump in Guwahati on February 17 last. Aaranyak in collaboration with Assam State Zoo and Kamrup district administration released this precious member of the endangered Greater Adjutant Stork today in Boragaon. The rescued stork, lovingly named as Diya, is a precious member of the rare Greater Adjutant, locally known as Hargila. Diya fell down from her nest on February 18, from a tree in Dadara village. She fortunately got the care of a few good Samaritans who rescued her and gave her a new lease of life.
The Dadara-Pacharia-Singimari village complex near Guwahati harbours the highest number of Greater Adjutants and is recognized as the biggest nesting colony in the World. Partha Sarathi Mahanta, Commandant of 4th Battalion Kahilipara and SK Seal Sharma, DFO Zoo released Diya with their own caring hands in Borgaon garbage dump today in presence of a group of wildlife conservationists, research scholars, local residents etc. ParthaSarathiMahanta who has helped Aaranyak in many such similar rescues in previous years said, "Hargila is the pride of Assam like rhinos and releasing one individual in the wild also makes a big difference to such an endngered species. I shall always join to such noble endeaveour."
SK Seal Sharma, the Divisional Forest Officer of Assam State Zoo added, “We are trying our level best to treat such rarest species and will always impart our helpful hands to such endangered bird.” He appreciated the support of Kamrup district adminstration and Kamrup Police for offering help to rescuing this species.
Interestingly, the bird has been named after a 4 year girl Diya Darshana Kashyap who is a tree owner’s niece and has witnessed Greater Adjutants on their campus from her birth. She was present in the event with her parents. "We have two Kadam trees in our backyard and she keeps her eyes alert for any stork that may fall from the nest. She wishes to be a Greater Adjutant researcher as she sees the Aaranyak researchers working for this species in her backyard. We are both surprised and proud", said Diya’s parents Mahesh Das and Mridula Kumar Das. Dr. Parag Deury from Rani Vulture breeding center from Bombay Natural History Society joined the event and donated a monitoring ring of BNHS to Diya. Dr. Parag Deury put the ring on Diya’s leg to keep a track of her release status. He said that rescuing and releasing the storks successfully in the wild can make a difference for the species. Purnima Devi Barman, who is the coordinator of Greater Adjutant Conservation program, Aaranyak is very hopeful for the future of Diya and many such Diyas in near future. She commented "This is our 15th such release in the wild and Diya is the first release for this year’s breeding season and we keep monitoring the birds throughout the year.” She also appreciated the villagers and said that "Community is the key player for conservation of this endangered bird, as this bird primarily takes shelter in privately owned nesting trees. Only nest tree owner's support can save this bird from its extinct threat".
It is worth mentioning that Kamrup District Administration has supported Aaranyak with 120 nets to be fitted under nesting trees of Greater Adjutants to save nest fall chicks, 15 conservation hoardings, and rescue vehicle along with other support in kind, for conservation of the biggest nesting colony of this globally endangered bird. It is to be noted that Kamrup District harbours more than 50% of its global population. Current global population of this bird is a mere 1000 and is distributed only across Assam and Bihar in India and Prek Toal of Cambodia.
It may be mentioned that, Aaranyak has been working for conservation of this bird for over eight years now and population in Kamrup district has increased considerably over the last few years. This has become possible through extensive community support and cooperation from all corners of the society.