Guwahati (Assam) , Jan 02 : The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and NGO Aaranyak has jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform within the zoo enclosure, in the first ever experiment of its kind.
Assam State Zoo DFO Mr Tejas Mariswamy said : “We are very proud to share this news with you all. This happened for the first time in a Zoo. Before this we don’t have any report that this endangered bird has bred in any zoo or any captivity.
This rarest of storks, the Hargila is currently on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss stemming from indiscriminate felling of big trees and dwindling wetlands.
Biologist Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, who leads the Greater Adjutant Conservation Project of Aaranyak informed, “In 2017, Aaranyak started collaborating with Assam State Zoo with a new idea of creating assisted breeding platforms for the captive Greater Adjutant Storks. The birds nested since 2017 but had failed to hatch so far. Finally we found success on 26th November 2019 when the first chick hatched and it has been the first recorded pair of Greater Adjutant to breed in an artificial platform.
It was only possible due to active support of the DFO of Assam state Zoo and dedicated team of doctors lead by Dr Bijoy Gogoi and Animal keepers – Mr Rajani Kanta Deka, and Mr Basumatary” It was a double success when after ten days a second hatchling emerged from the breeding platform.
Dr. Barman said that two bamboo platforms of ten feet were constructed within the enclosure. The platform made for the nest was one meter in breadth echoing the natural size of Hargila nests. Nesting materials used by these birds in natural ecosystem were closely studied from available literature and direct observation which were collected inside the zoo.
The nesting material was supplied on the onset of breeding season during August. Once the birds started gathering nesting materials in September, fresh nesting materials were supplied every week initially and later on every alternate day.
Food supply was increased by four times by weight consulting with experts on Ciconidae group. Since the birds were not in the wild, much care was taken for egg nesting material collection, foods supplies etc.
The Endangered Greater Adjutant stork (Leptoptilosdubius) is one of the rarest species of Storks out of twenty species of Storks in the world.
In India, eight species of residential storks are found, out of which Greater Adjutant is one of them. Once abundantly distributed in Southeast Asia, this stork is now restricted to a few isolated pockets in Assam and Bihar in India and PrekToal in Cambodia.
The colonial birds breeds in traditional nesting colonies within thickly populated villages in Assam and breeds in tall trees species including Anthocephaluscadamba(Kadam), Artocarpusleukochuwa (Dewa), Pithecellobiummonadephum, BombaxCeiba (Simul), Tamarindusindica (Teteli), Trewianudifera (Bhelkol), Gmelinaarborea (Gomari).
Habitat loss, poaching and poisoning are the major threats to the species. Cutting down of nesting trees by the tree owners and infrastructural construction has resulted into a breeding failure of the species and many historical breeding colonies have gone missing in its historical distribution range.
Assam Forest MinisterSri Parimal Shuklabadiya congratulated the entire team for this successful breeding program and wished more success in future.
Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar , CEO of Aarnayk said “ report of successful breeding of Greater Adjutant at Assam State Zoo resulting into birth of chicks are indeed a great news.