Hargila Army – women saving the Greater Adjutant Stork

Purnima Devi Barman’s Hargila Army of local women protect the critically endangered Greater Adjutant Stork in rural Assam, India. The project aids women’s livelihoods and restores habitat through planting trees and wetland restoration.
Kamrup District, Assam
20,000 ha

are being restored


people positively impacted


trees being planted


tonnes CO₂ to be captured / year

Focal species
Greater adjutant stork
Key habitats
Wetland areas, Riverbanks, Riverine forests, Agroforestry
Project Focus
  • Biodiversity
  • ·
  • Education
  • ·
  • Forest restoration
  • ·
  • Reforestation
  • ·
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • ·
  • Wetland restoration

The problem

The Greater Adjutant stork is an endangered bird according to IUCN red list and is found in India and Cambodia. This IUCN red lists endangered birds with a decreasing global population trend of about 1200 individuals. Assam, India, is the stronghold of this bird, with about 80% of its global population is residing here.

The scavenging bird is locally called Hargila (bone swallower), treated as a bad omen, ugly pest, and disease carrier. This bird was persecuted poisoned, and its breeding colonies were destroyed. Purnima’s tireless and consistent works have reversed the situation of this bird of the people, and these needs to sustain.

What the project does

Species and habitat restoration

Purnima and her Hargila Army are restoring the stork’s population through protecting nesting trees, providing artificial nesting trees, rescuing chicks that fall from the nest, and rehabilitating injured birds. Trees will be planted on 500 hectares of degraded land in unprotected areas near storks’ habitats. It really takes a village to protect these storks.

Community development

The project has established a weaving center where local women weave traditional cloth with the stork motif, and make other products to sell as handicrafts. Materials for weaving and sewing and training in handicrafts is provided at the centre. Agroforestry farms will be established, including a training programme for women.


The project recently opened a Hargila Education and Conservation Centre in Guwahati, Assam to share information about this amazing bird. Hargila baby showers and other cultural and ritual awareness events have attracted people and transformed the birds into cultural icons.

Rescue & research

A nest adoption and learning exchange program among nest tree owners will be established. Radio tagging of 20 birds to learn more about their dispersal and other ecological information is planned. A bird hospital will be established.

Project Partners

hargila armyaaranyakrewilding academy

Project Gallery