Storks are fabled to deliver human babies to expectant parents. Reality is, residents of a backward village in Assam have been helping the birds deliver their own.
For greens and Assamese cine stars, all roads would on Monday lead to Dadara village 30 km west of Guwahati. Their agenda: to felicitate 25 owners of tall trees for quietly making a strong ecological statement.
These trees belong to species – locally called ‘kadam’, ‘simalu’ and ‘deva’ – that are quite common in the subcontinent. What makes the ones in Dadara special is that they are homes to almost a third of the world’s total population of greater adjutant storks.
The greater adjutant, the rarest of 19 species of storks on earth, is found in India and Cambodia. The world has only 800 of these large birds left, of which 600 reside across Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley. Some 300 such storks including chicks live on the trees in Dadara and adjoining areas.
Farmers Paresh Das and Subodh Saikia aren’t aware that the trees they own sustain a tad under 50% of the world’s adjutant storks. “All I know is that they are family members, and that god has chosen our village to help them live peacefully on earth,” says Saikia.
Wildlife activists stumbled upon Dadara’s stork-nest tree owners a few months ago. “The silent effort of the villagers has gone a long way in conserving the endangered greater adjutant stork they call ‘hargila’,” said Purnima Devi Barman of a green NGO named Aaranyak.
“As these storks build their nesting colonies on trees grown on private land, conservation efforts cannot succeed without the active cooperation of the community concerned,” she told HT.
In order to promote conservation beyond Dadara, the NGO would be felicitating the nest tree owners on Monday. Assamese film heartthrob Prastuti Parashar is expected to heighten the glamour quotient.