More than 10,000 rural women in the Indian state of Assam are part of the "hargila army" which works to protect one of the world's rarest storks - the greater adjutant, known locally as hargila. The group's founder, Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, began work to save the endangered stork by first honoring the owners of nesting trees as guardians. To get women out of their homes, she organized "baby showers" during the storks' breeding season and "happy hatching" ceremonies. Today, there are more than 1,000 hargila birds in Assam, the once-maligned bird has become a cultural symbol, and women earn an independent income, weaving fabrics from which they make bags and cushion covers. Barman has been named World Female Ranger, received the Whitley award and the Nari Shakti Puraskar, and recently was given the UN Environment Program's Champions of the Earth award.

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