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Sun, 17 Feb 2019

Northeast Today

Assam Woman Wins Earth Heroes Award

Assam Woman Wins Earth Heroes Award
October 18
17:52 2016

Purnima Devi Barman, a wildlife biologist and conservationist has been conferred the prestigious Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Earth Heroes Award 2016 for her effort to save the highly endangered Greater Adjutant Stork. Purnima has been leading a continuous crusade along with people from two adjacent villages –Dadara and Pachariya –of Kamrup district in Assam for saving the endangered species.

The global distribution of adjutant stork, the rarest of the 20 species of storks, is confined to a few isolated pockets in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, Bihar and Cambodia. In Assam, the bird mainly nests in private areas and conservation is mainly dependent on the efforts of the community. The global population of the species is only about 1,000, out of which about 80 per cent have been recorded in Assam.

For the last several years, Purnima has been working extensively to protect the bird that is mentioned on the IUCN red list. Around 750-800 storks have been recorded in Assam – the highest concentration in the world.

Purnima had earlier received the Future Conservationist Award 2009 from the Conservation Leadership Programme, UK, for working extensively in Dadara and Pachariya villages, 12 km from Guwahati, where the stork breeds in tree-top colonies located on private land.

The villages now take pride in the presence of the bird in their backyard. The villagers are so attached to the bird that they have built a statue of the stork on the campus of Sankardev Sishu Niketan at Dadara and regularly perform prayers for the conservation of the bird.

Purnima underwent international field training in a remote forest area in Cambodia on nesting monitoring and biology of the stork. The Conservation Leadership Programme offered her the training and also provided a scholarship for it.

“The major difference in the conservation story of the Greater Adjutant Stork in Cambodia and Assam is that in Cambodia the bird breeds and roosts in deep forest and not in private lands, as in Assam. Habitat destruction, felling of trees, hunting, etc. are major problems in Assam whereas poaching for meat and egg collection by fringe villagers are the problems in Cambodia,” Purnima said.

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