Motichak Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Bhagalpur, Bihar Forest Species Protection Not Available Not Available

Case Study (2009)

Background

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the greater adjutant storks were found in huge numbers, in much of South and South-East Asia from Pakistan through northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Over the last hundred years, a massive decline has taken place and their breeding population has confined to only two places in the world one in Assam in India and the other in Cambodia. However its foraging population survives mainly in the flood plains of Brahmaputra, Ganga and Kosi region. Some reports of breeding populations of the greater adjutant had come from Uttar Pradesh in the year 1865-1868 and from Orissa in 1889-1890 but were not authenticated as mentioned in the Red Data Book1 .

IUCN (the World Conservation Union) has categorized this species as endangered in the year 2002. Its total world population has been estimated to be 700-800. 80% of the breeding population of this species is found in Assam in India and rest in Cambodia. The authors of this case study have identified the first ever nesting of greater adjutant in Bihar as the third breeding range of this species in the world.2

In India nine species of storks are found. Among these, the white stork, oriental stork and black storks are migratory and the greater adjutant, lesser adjutant, black necked stork, Asian openbill or openbilled stork, woolly necked stork or white necked stork, and painted stork are resident.

Out of these nine species of storks, seven are seen around Bhagalpur district of Bihar. The members of Mandar Nature Club (MNC) based in Bhagalpur have found the breeding sites of four species of these storks in the area i.e. the Asian openbill, black necked stork, lesser adjutant and the greater adjutant. While the greater adjutant has the status of endangered category, the lesser adjutant is categorized as vulnerable by the IUCN under the list of threatened birds of Asia. In Bhagalpur both these species are seen breeding on the same trees. Black necked stork and painted stork have been categorized by IUCN as nearly threatened species. 

Both the greater adjutant and the lesser adjutant are known to breed close to human habitation. Lesser adjutant have been seen breeding on semal, peepal, banyan and mango trees in the state. In the newly discovered breeding site both of these species seem to be preferring semal trees located in Motichak village of Bhagalpur district. Locally the storks are called as garud3 and the greater adjutant as bada garud or hargilla because they have a large neck pouch. The garud have a great mythological importance among the Hindus in India as they are known to be the careers of lord Vishnu.

Villagers in Motichak village have been traditionally protecting the birds from the nomadic hunter gatherer tribe, Banpar, locally called the Gulgulwas. There have been reports of the local villagers snatching the catapult from the banpars and driving them away from the nesting site of these birds. The villagers had been doing this without the knowledge of the threatened status of these birds.

developed between the villagers and the MNC members. Through the bird watchers the villagers became aware about the threatened status of the adjutant species and their zeal to protect these birds increased. Villagers are now sentimentally attached with the trees on which the birds nest. Once when a chick of a lesser adjutant died after falling from the tree, even the women and children came to its rescue. The next morning all women, children and the youth were sad as the chick did not survive. Once the breeding site was discovered by the MNC members, the villagers were skeptical about their intentions behind visiting the site. Over a period of time an environment of trust and friendship

Some of the main threats being faced by these birds include the following:

1. Habitat destruction

2. Hunting by local nomadic, hunter, gatherer tribe called the Banpars, who collect the eggs and chicks of the birds and hunt them for food and trade.

3. Extensive use of the anti-inflammatory medicine Diclofenac for veterinary purposes (also the reason for the forced, near extinction of vulture population in India). Greater adjutant often feed on carcasses of dead livestock and are likely to be decimated like the vultures if Diclofenac is not banned in the state.

4. Lack of awareness about their threatened status.

More extensive surveys are required at micro levels to find out the exact status of both foraging and breeding populations of these birds in the state. This species needs to be listed under schedule I of Wild Life (Protection) Act (under which the threatened species in India are listed and protected).

The forest department needs to take a greater interest in conserving this species along with the local people. High level of awareness is required to be generated among the rural people about the status of these birds. Plantation of semal trees close to their nesting sites needs to be encouraged.

  This case study has been contributed by Arvind Mishra, the State Coordinator of Bihar and Jharkhand for Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN) who is also the member State Board for Wildlife, Govt. of Bihar and member editorial board, Newsletter for Birdwatchers along with his team of Mandar Nature Club (MNC), Bhagalpur, Jainandan Mandal, D.N. Choudhary, Sunil Agrawal, Tapan Kumar Pan and Tapan Kumar Ghosh. This case study was contributed in January 2007.

Arvind Mishra
Mandar Nature Club
Anand Chikitsalaya Road
Bhagalpur, Bihar – 812002
Ph: 0641 – 2423479,
Mob: 09431875124
E-mail: [email protected] and [email protected]

1 A database on the endangered species of flora and fauna.

2 A. Mishra, J. Nandan, Mandal and T. K. Gosh, ‘Breeding of Lesser Adjutant from an unexplored area of Kosi region of N. Bihar’. Newsletter for Birdwatchers, Vol. 44, No.6, Nov– Dec 2004. A. Mishra, J. Nandan, Mandal and T. K. Gosh, ‘First ever reporting of the breeding population of lesser adjutant in Bihar’. Mistnet, Vol. 7, No.1, Jan-Mar, 2006.

3 In this area all the storks in general are referred to as garud, connected to the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayan in which garud the bird helped lord Ram in his war of goodness over evil.

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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