Ornis Hungarica. vol.29(1). (2021) p.33-46.
Nesting habitat selection and challenges of conservation of the vulnerable Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus (Horsfield, 1821) in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal
The nesting ecology and conservation threats of the Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) were studied in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal. We located nine nesting colonies during the nesting season. The number of nests was highly positively correlated with tree height, diameter at breast height and canopy cover. The uppermost canopy of the trees was the most preferred nesting place. Storks preferred to nest in compact colonies on large, widely branched trees with thin foliage cover, such as Bombax ceiba, and also nearby the foraging grounds such as wetlands and grasslands. Storks mostly preferred to nest in Bombax ceiba, but if this tree was not available, they nested in other trees, such as Shorea robusta, Ficus racemosa and Terminalia alata. During the breeding season, 180 adults, 76 nests and 88 chicks were recorded, where the highest number of chicks was recorded near the Sauraha area of the Chitwan National Park. Most of the colonies were far from human settlements, which suggest that human disturbance could be the major determinant of nesting habitat selection in this area. The wetlands nearby human settlements are either overexploited in terms of mass collection of the storks` prey species by people or disturbed highly due to presence of a large number of people. These empirical findings suggest that conservation of Lesser Adjutant mainly rely on the protection of mature Bombax ceiba trees and the reduction of human disturbance and of the collection of stork prey animals from foraging areas.