Patna: The Kadwa Koshi Diara floodplains in Bhagalpur district of Bihar, considered the third most popular breeding ground and habitat for the endangered stork in the world after Assam and Cambodia, have been included in the list of “other effective area-based conservation measures”. (OECM). This is good news for the continued efforts of the local Riverbelt community to retain larger Warrant Officers, known locally as “Garuda”.
The greater adjutant stork is listed as “endangered on the 2004 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and listed on Schedule IV of the Wildlife Act 1972 Indian (protection). This huge stork has a bare pink head, a very thick yellow beak and a low neck pouch. The neck ruff is white. The bird looks like a vulture. Besides the pale gray edge of each wing, the rest of its body is dark gray.
Juveniles have narrower, thicker bill on head and neck, and entirely dark wings. A Garuda bird measures 145-150 cm (about three feet) in length and four to five feet in height.
Apart from Kadwa Koshi Diara floodplains, Jagatpur Lake in Bhagalpur which is known to attract over 159 species of birds is another declared OECM site.
Arvind Mishra, an expert on large warrant officers, who is also the state coordinator of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), told NewsClick that the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) selected Kadwa Koshi Diara, known for its pool of great warrant officers, as one of the country’s OECMs.
“Kadwa Koshi Diara is declared OECM for its biodiversity and conservation.
Mishra, manager of the Mandar Nature Club, based in Bhagalpur, said the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the NBA and the United Nations Development Program and other partners were involved. in the identification, mapping and reporting of unique in situ biodiversity conservation sites. as an OECM in India.
NBA President VB Mathur in an official letter to Mishra said the national biodiversity target aims to conserve areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services through protected areas and OECM.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines an OECM as a geographically defined area other than a protected area, which is governed and managed to achieve positive and sustainable long-term results for the in situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions. and services and, where relevant, cultural, spiritual, socio-economic and other relevant local values.
Mathur stressed that recognition of an area as an OECM will not affect the current legal status of the area but will only be recorded in the global OECM database.
Mishra said that the UNDP, together with the NBA, made a short film about new places selected as OECMs to present to the world for their conservation.
Ruchika Tripathi, Project Associate, UNDP Delhi, in a letter to Mishra, said that India is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. With only 2.4% of the world’s land area, India is home to 7-8% of all recorded species, including nearly 47,000 species of plants and over 100,000 species of animals.
“UNDP closely supports the Government of India in achieving national development goals and commitments under major multilateral environmental agreements by providing leadership support, encouraging South-South cooperation and building partnerships innovative with the public and private sectors”,
She added, “We are pleased to share that UNDP is developing a series of short films to document best practices from across the country contributing to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. We are keen to cover the floodplains of Kadwa Kosi and Lake Jagatpur, Bihar as stellar examples of biodiversity conservation in India.
Bhagalpur Divisional Forestry Officer Bharat Chintapalli told NewsClick that OECM status in the Kadwa Koshi Diara floodplains would boost the conservation of larger adjutants.
Mishra said that in recent years, several surveys have revealed that the warrant officer population is slowly increasing, thanks to conservation efforts. The local community, mainly farmers, works on a voluntary basis to provide them with a safe and natural habitat.
Mishra, who first spotted a greater adjutant and nesting and breeding in 2006-07 in the Bhagalpur river, is also the man who motivated the local community in two panchayats in Kadwa Diara to work for the conservation.
He said community conservation groups comprised of local farmers, fishermen, youth, students and women play an important role in conservation, resulting in a many-fold increase in the population of the rare grand adjutant, their nesting or breeding numbers.
“There were 78 greater warrant officers in 2007, which have increased to over 600 by 2022. “Their population will increase as the long-awaited nesting and breeding season of greater warrant officers has begun in Kadwa Diara.”
The world’s population of the largest adjutant is estimated to be around 1,800 people at present.
Mishra said the state government has given its full support to the retention of the tallest warrant officer.
“A rescue and rehabilitation center had been set up at Sundarban in Bhagalpur. It was a unique initiative and so far the only one of its kind in the country taken by the government. A temporary rescue provision had also been set up in the breeding area to administer first aid to injured birds.When the rescued birds recover, they are released back into their natural habitat.