Skip to main content
The Painted Stork (cover)

Publisher: Pelagic Publishing, London

Publication Year: 2024

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 191

ISBN Number: 9781784274399

Price: £ 24.99

The Painted Stork: Exploring Ecology and Conservation in India

Abdul Jamil Urfi’s latest work on his beloved Painted Storks takes us to India and provides an accessible but richly informative account of the lives of these globally Near Threatened birds. Urfi has a deep association with the wild colony of Painted Storks that breed within the Delhi Zoo, and the chapters draw on his years of careful observation of this interesting urban population. He also takes us to humid swamps, marshes and woodlands in the wider Indian countryside, where as well as Painted Storks, a cast of other long-legged birds; herons, ibises and other stork species, wade through the pages. Far from being a single species account, Urfi paints a picture of Indian wetlands and the wildlife that inhabit them through the eyes of storks and the people who work to understand and conserve them.

The introduction alone shines with Urfi’s enthusiasm for the species and gives his rationale for choosing Painted Storks as a single species to study. Using the stork as an example, Urfi walks the reader through concepts in ornithology such as nesting behaviour, foraging ecology, and why some large waterbird species like storks form colonies. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on storks and people, which was not just limited to how Painted Storks are received and the folklore surrounding them in India but gives an Asian perspective of European stork folklore as well. Arguably the most important chapter is the last, devoted to conservation. Although Painted Storks appear to be adaptable birds that have in places gone along with increasing urbanisation, there remain many challenges to both the storks and the wetlands that they depend on.

While the book is very nicely laid out, with high-quality pictures and illustrations, I had one small gripe; the text is peppered with interesting and informative boxes that present asides from the main body of the chapter, but sometimes these are quite long, and in at least one case a text box extends over three pages! That makes it pretty much a section in the book in its own right, and by the time I had finished reading it I had forgotten what I was reading before.

This book mixes carefully conducted field research and intimate knowledge of single species’ ecology, with a wider appreciation for Indian natural history. The book serves as both a detailed account of the lives of Painted Storks, and also as an introduction to Indian wetland ecology that will appeal to professional ecologists and students in India, and those with an enthusiasm for Indian wildlife.

Book reviewed by Anthony Wetherhill

buy this book

Related content