May 11
Greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius)

Greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius)

Species: Greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting fact: The greater adjutant is named after an adjutant (military officer) because of its stately manner and habit of standing motionless for long periods of time.

With its naked pink head, very thick yellow bill and low-hanging neck pouch, the greater adjutant is a rather eye-catching stork. Colonies of greater adjutants can be seen gathering in India and Cambodia at the start of the dry season in October. Large nests are constructed on tall trees, and eggs are laid between November and January. These hatch after about a month of incubation. Nestlings are cared for until April when the start of the wet season prompts migration north. A carnivore and scavenger, the greater adjutant feeds on a variety of prey, including carrion, fish, reptiles and large insects. It is also known to feed in human rubbish dumps.

Once found across south and southeast Asia, the greater adjutant is now restricted to two small breeding populations. Loss of nesting habitat and feeding sites has had a huge impact as suitable wetland habitats are cleared, drained, polluted and disturbed by humans. Hunting of the adult birds and collection of eggs also threaten the greater adjutant. This species is legally protected in many countries, although enforcement of these laws is often lacking.

For more information on the greater adjutant see the Wildlife Conservation Society website

Find more photos and videos of the greater adjutant on the ARKive website.

With thanks to @inaturalist for this weeks suggested Endangered Species of the Week!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Jack Schlotte (May 17th, 2012 at 1:57 pm):

    The striking decline in a species once as common as the Greater Adjutant stork shows clearly man’s negative impact on a global scale. I’d be interested in learning of the origin of its species name, “dubius.” Maybe it SHOULD reflect on the dubious nature of man’s activities which have caused its rapid decline!
    I’ve spent a month at a scientific research station deep in the rain forest of French Guiana and the diversity and beauty of life is really impressive. From photographing lekking birds to mist-netted bats and live-caught rare marsupials and observing free roaming monkeys, Macaws and Motmots, I had the experience of a lifetime. We need to appreciate and preserve the life of this planet for all future generations.