Purnima Barman: On a mission to protect endangered storks

ANI | Updated: Mar 16, 2018 00:40 IST

Dispur(Assam)[India]Mar 16(ANI): A young woman, Purnima Devi Barman, from Assam has been conferred the 'Nari Shakti Puraskar' by the President, Ram Nath Kovind, in New Delhi on "International Women's Day, for her efforts in conserving the Adjutant Stork which is almost on the verge of extinction.

She has also won the prestigious Whitely Awards, also known as the Green Oscars last year. from Princess Anne, who is the patron of the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN).

Adjutant Stork are a rare species birds, which were once common across the wetlands in south-east Asia, but are now classified as endangered. With only around 1,200 of these birds remaining today, 800 of them reside in Assam.

It was her immense love for the endangered species of the adjutant stork, locally known as the 'Hargila' in Assamese, which led 37 year old Purnima on a crusade to save these birds.

"I landed in a village to do my PHD in 2008, but an incident changed my life and everything and my Phd got a backseat. I converted myself to a manager since then I have been working with people to protect the bird from extinction because as I told the incident that one tree owner was cutting down the nesting tree and the baby birds were falling down and it was a very painful moment" said Purnima.

She formed the 'Hargila Army' that consist of a team of female conservationists dedicated to protecting the greater adjutant stork.

Together, Purnima and her army are on a mission to break down barriers and challenge pre-conceived notions regarding the adjutant storks, which are often neglected for its odd looking images and messy activities. The greater adjutant is a scavenger bird and they mostly feed on garbage and rubbish dumb.

Twice a week, Purnima clambers up an 80 feet ladder to a bamboo platform. She sits for hours on end, to observe the odd-looking birds that have given her life new meaning.

It's a team work and I am working with communities to protect the scruffy endangered stork in Assam and have convinced the villagers of Dadara and Pachariya in Assam's Kamrup district to engage in the conservation activities. Earlier, the villagers used to destroy the habitat areas of the scavenger bird.(ANI)