Gamosa in ‘save stork’ cry- Kamrup artisans weave conservation message on to cloth
|The storks and (above) the motif on the gamosa|
Guwahati, July 22: Artisans in a Kamrup village are raising silent conservation slogans with a spool of thread, weaving motifs of the greater adjutant stork into gamosas to remind the user that there are only 800 of them left in the world.
Of the 20 stork species found on the planet, the greater adjutant is the rarest, confined mainly to Assam and Cambodia. Eighty per cent of the bird’s global population lives in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam and Kamrup district is home to 50 per cent of them.
A research team of Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in the Northeast, arrived in Dadara in Kamrup district in July last year to mobilise community co-operation for conservation of the nesting colony of the greater adjutant stork species.
“With frequent interaction and motivation efforts, the villagers began understanding the importance of the bird species to the ecology. They have started taking pride in the fact that theirs is one of the few places on earth where this important variety of stork is found,” said Purnima Devi Barman, the leader of Aaranyak’s research team.
Villagers have now become so fond of those storks that they have started flaunting their presence in whatever way they can.
For instance, a team of weavers led by Sanju Saikia has started weaving the motif of the bird on gamosas (traditional Assamese towels) under the guidance of Purnima Devi.
“Professor Stephen Garnett, director of School of Environmental Research Charles Darwin University in Australia, was overwhelmed by the stork motif on the gamosa presented to him when I met him at Albarta University in Canada during a conference earlier this month. We are now planning to help and motivate Dadara weavers to weave bedsheets using the stork motif so that their love for the bird can provide them with a source of earning too,” she said.
Dadara, she feels, can also be promoted as a tourist location to highlight the community’s involvement in ecology conservation.
She admits that only a few weavers are involved now and they have not yet tried to sell the gamosa in the market.
“We are planning to orient the weavers of Dadara on the issue and to encourage them for production of other things like bags and wall-hangings with stork sketches,” she said.
Though the bird species is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in India, its habitats (nesting colonies) are not protected.
As these storks build their nesting colonies on trees grown on private land, conservation efforts become futile without the co-operation from the community concerned.