Vehicles slowed down and stopped in Guwahati’s Ulubari Area on the day before Diwali, when a Greater Adjutant stork, known locally as a hargilla, flew down to GS Road. The huge, intimidating bird lost its way and landed on the road amidst heavy traffic, attracting a number of curious onlookers who took pictures and recorded videos (above) and compared the “prodigy of ugliness” to scenes from Jurassic Park.
The bird seemed lost and confused, and visibly disturbed by the chaos surrounding it, yet people respectfully (and fearfully) maintained a distance. Though the forest authorities and a team from the state zoo showed up to rescue the bird, it took to flight on its own and flapped away into the darkness.
The endangered species, which is found only in Assam and Cambodia, typically resides near the Deepor Beel on the city outskirts, and some take shelter on the trees around the graveyard located behind the B Borooah College.
Moloy Baruah, president of Early Birds, an organisation of nature enthusiasts, surmised that the bird was probably scared out of its shelter because of the noise pollution caused by bursting of crackers for Diwali. He told Guwahati Plus, “It was a case of fright; it was scared and it moved away from its shelter to the nearest road which is GS Road.”
There are less than 1,000 remaining Hargillas in the world, and only about 250 left in Guwahati according to Baruah. Yet, reports Guwahati Plus, there is not a single rescue centre or shelter home for wildlife species in Guwahati. The helpline number of the state zoo has been dysfunctional for a while, said Baruah, with the excuse that the zoo doesn’t get many calls. He added that the species will become extinct if the government doesn’t take steps to protect it.