Little adjutant stork study in Nepal raises hopes for conservationists

Kathmandu: They have bare yellow necks and a head topped with a long pointed beak, and can easily be seen in the agricultural fields of Nepal when the rice plants turn green a few weeks after planting. Perched in tall trees, little adjutant storks scan the fields for prey such as fish, frogs, reptiles, large invertebrates, mice, small mammals, and sometimes carrion. Birds shoot arrows at their prey when they feel there is a chance to catch them.

  • Sensitive little adjutant storks are breeding more successfully in Nepal than expected, a new study of the species in the country’s southern plains shows.
  • Among the 206 nests studied, the researchers found 280 chicks fledged, exceeding the expected ratio of about one chick per nest for greater storks.
  • Smaller adjutant colonies are at risk of habitat loss because they often nest in tall trees that are cut down in agricultural fields and areas of road construction or home construction.
  • The species has not previously been studied in detail, but this new study raises hopes among conservationists who say local governments should help raise awareness of the birds’ importance.

Smaller adjutants are not considered symbols like sarus cranes, mainly due to their physical structure (Antigone Antigone) living in similar habitats. “Their Nepalese name bhudiphor garud (meaning a stork that uses its beak to open the belly of its prey) doesn’t help their popularity either,” said Kamal Raj Gosai, co-author of a 2016 study on the species.

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