Chandigarh: In a first-of-its kind study in Asia, researchers have found the lesser adjutant stork that was thought to avoid human-modified areas like agricultural landscapes is multiplying there.
The study in lowlands of Nepal highlights the high value that agricultural areas can have for conserving even large waterbirds like the lesser adjutant stork.
“What we discovered is rather reassuring and good news for a species that was previously thought to be negatively affected by the agriculture,” Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) scientist K.S. Gopi Sundar told IANS.
He said the lesser adjutant storks breed in small colonies where several pairs build nests together on trees with large canopies, which makes it very easy to spot and monitor them.
“We discovered over 100 nests of the species in a relatively small area that covered parts of the two neighbouring districts of Rupandehi and Kapilvastu. This finding makes this population the largest known breeding population of this species — a huge and pleasant surprise to begin with,” he explained.
“Thanks to the storks being found abundantly in this location, we were able to undertake studies on several key aspects of its biology: the selection of trees for nesting, the factors that affected its breeding success, and finally, some behavioural aspects to understand if agricultural landscapes were diminishing the ability of the storks to raise their chicks.”
Lowland Nepal, while dominated with cereal multi-cropped agriculture, still has farmers retain trees on the landscape.
“This they do partly due to sensible agro-forestry laws in the country that encourage the growth of several native tree species that are then used for matchstick making and paper, among other products,” said Sundar, who is the IUCN Co-chair of the Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group.
In addition, farmers of lowland Nepal protect certain tree species, like the fig trees, due to religious beliefs that they accord to these trees. (IANS)
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