With a wingspan measuring up to 3 metres, the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is the largest of the Leptoptilos storks. The greater adjutant suffers from persecution due to its unsightly physique and carrion-feeding tendencies. This has led to the decimation of its populations during the last century. Once found in much of Southeast Asia, it is now classified as "endangered" by the IUCN, with its range now limited to Cambodia and the Indian state of Assam.
A species living on borrowed time
It is estimated that between 800 and 1,200 individuals currently survive in the wild. More than 50% of the breeding population of the species is believed to nest around three adjacent villages in the state of Assam. This large concentration of breeding specimens in one place presents a significant risk for the species in the event of a climate-related disaster or an outbreak of avian flu. The scarcity of nesting sites is also a factor limiting the population's expansion.
The Aaranyak association has established an artificial nests programme to help expand nesting sites for the species, and therefore encourage greater adjutants to reproduce in protected areas far from the villages. Several prototype nests have already been tested in areas where greater adjutants come to feed, and several breeding pairs have already used some of these nests successfully. Beauval Nature supports Aaranyak by financing the construction of these artificial nests.
In addition to this, the project also gets local populations involved in the protection of this bird. A group of women from the local communities, called the Hargila Army (meaning greater adjutant in Assamese), has dedicated itself to the conservation of the species in Assam by raising awareness amongst the local populations.
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