Last month, ecologists recorded one of the first instances of the near-threatened black-necked stork successfully breeding in Delhi NCR’s Surajpur Wetland — which, until a decade ago, had reduced to nothing more than a filthy, polluted pond.
Classified as near-threatened since 2004 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the unusual sighting was recorded at the Surajpur Wetland in Greater Noida between December 2017 and January 2018. “The species was spotted with two grown-up sub-adults. It was recorded on a dry tree-top at the Surajpur Wetland,” said ecologist T K Roy.
The black-necked stork is a member of stork family that lives across south and southeast Asia. In India, it is a widespread resident species that migrates locally. “It prefers natural wetlands as freshwater marshes, lakes, large rivers and open forest pools while feeding on smaller animals like mollusks, crabs, insects, fish, frogs and reptiles,” said Roy.
As per IUCN, the species is threatened due to habitat loss, overfishing, overgrazing, hunting, encroachment of agriculture land, felling of nest trees. As per Birdlife International, its estimated global population is 21,000 mature individuals and 31,000 individuals in total at present.
The story of the stork in Delhi-NCR is also linked to the story of the Surajpur Wetland. Until 2009, pollution and encroachment had choked the ecosystem. With efforts of the forest department in 2009, endangered birds such as Sarus Cranes began breeding here.
The protected forest land under the Surajpur Wetland and Reserve Forest stretches across 350 hectares and officials said that the fact that different micro-habitats existed in the area alongside each other has ensured that different species of birds thrive.