KATHMANDU — They have a bare yellow neck and a head connected to a long pointed beak, and they can be easily spotted in Nepal’s agriculture fields when the rice plants turn green a few weeks after planting. Perching on tall trees, lesser adjutant storks scan the fields for prey such as fish, frogs, reptiles, large invertebrates, mice, small mammals and, at times, carrion. The birds dart at their prey whenever they feel they have a chance at catching it. Lesser adjutants, mainly due to their physical build, are not considered as iconic as sarus cranes (Antigone antigone) that live in similar habitats. “Their Nepali name bhudiphor garud (which translates to a stork that uses its beak to open the belly of its prey) also doesn’t help their popularity,” said Kamal Raj Gosai, co-author of a 2016 study of the species. Perhaps this may be the reason that their population and status hadn’t been studied in detail, not just in Nepal, but also in the rest of South Asia and Southeast Asia where they are found. A handful of microlevel studies, conducted mainly in forested areas, suggested that the sighting of the bird was becoming increasingly rarer, and the IUCN, the international authority on biodiversity, categorized it as vulnerable in 1994. According to IUCN, the bird has gone extinct in Singapore and most likely in China due to hunting, loss of nesting habitat, degradation of wetlands and intensification of agriculture. However, a recent first-of-its-kind extensive study on the species in…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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