In a first, Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and wildlife NGO Aaranyak successfully carried out hatching of two Greater Adjutant chicks, a member of the stork family, commonly known as Hargila in Assam. The breeding was carried out in an artificial platform within an enclosed area of a zoo.
"We have been trying this since 2017 and successful this year," informed biologist Purnima Devi Barman associated with the NGO Aaranyak. The Greater Adjutant Stork is the rarest of the 20 stork species in the world. Once widely found in the northern and eastern parts of India, and South and Southeast Asia, it is now confined to only three places in the world — Assam, Bihar, and Cambodia.
Assam has about two-thirds of the 1,200 surviving storks in the world. Called ‘Hargila’ (one which swallows bones) locally, the Greater Adjutant Stork is a scavenger whose role in the food chain is crucial. However, owing to its bad odour and loud sound, people drive it away, or worse, kill it. Working painstakingly to change perceptions, Barman and her team have been fighting the battle since 2008 in a small village called Dadara in the Kamrup district of Assam where most of these birds are found.