Assam in India has been witness to one of the most unique conservation success stories in the world, with the reversal of a species’ fortunes from being persecuted, to being revered as a national identity. The Greater Adjutant Conservation Initiative of Assam, India led by Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, Director, WiNN India, has now received another helping hand from New Zealand High Commission. The Commission had recently come forward to support the rural women’s efforts to save the endangered Hargila in Assam. This is one of the recent milestones the Hargila movement in Assam has been able to reach in recent months. Earlier this year, conservation activists from around the world had visited Assam to visit the Greater Adjutant habitat and attend Women In Nature Network's Global networking event that took place in Guwahati in January 2019.
With the NZ High Commission's support an awareness campaign to enable women to be the guardians of Hargila conservation was launched with an event on 27thJune 2019. During the day-long event, 280 women who comprise of the now globally acclaimed ‘HargilaArmy’ came together. The event was organized in collaboration with Kamrup District Administration, Kamrup Police, Assam Forest Department, Dadara Sarbajanin Sri Sri Saradiya Durga Puja Samitee and villagers of Dadara. DFO Chandan Bora, Rangiya Division and Daisy Gogoi, DSP, Rangiya graced the event and lauded the efforts of the Hargila Army and urged them to continue their conservation work and spoke about the key role women play in the society and in environmental conservation, respectively. Arpana Sarma, Circle officer attached to Hajo said that, “We read about women empowerment, but Hargila Army women are real life examples of it.” Chandradhar Das, Gaon Burha, Village head of Dadara delivered a very interesting speech on how rural women can become self -dependent and should establish their own identity. Renowned journalist Madhusudan Medhi discussed issues related to conservation and inspired the women to protect nature. Shankar Saikia, from Dadara, explained the influential position of women in Assamese society and their role in conservation. By next month, 80 sewing machines will be provided to the HargilaArmy members under the project supported by the New Zealand High Commission
Green Oscar winner Dr Purnima Devi Barman, wildlife Biologist, Aaranyak and Director of WiNN India, who leads the Greater Adjutant conservation initiative elaborated on her future plans for empowering the women and for Greater Adjutant conservation. She thanked the New Zealand High Commission and all supporters, well-wishers of this program and summoned all to move ahead with passion for conservation. Also present during the event were students from Assam Engineering College, Jalukbari along with Aaranyak staff members Kongseng Konwar, Bijoyinee Sharma and Firdausi Chaudhury.
Dr. Purnima Devi Barman was conferred the prestigious Whitley Awards also known as the Green Oscars in May, 2017 by Whitley Fund for Nature. On International Women’s Day March 8, 2018, Purnima Devi Barman was awarded the Nari Shakti Purashkar 2017 award which was conferred by the country’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, in New Delhi.