The Hargila Army

The Ugly Stork

In the Indian state of Assam, another animal species – the greater adjutant, also known as the hargila – is threatened with extinction. The consequences for humans and the environment would be dramatic. Biologist Purnima Devi Burman and the Hargila Army, a team of volunteer environmental warriors from the towns and villages of Assam, work tirelessly to protect the rare stork species.

The success of this all-female organization in patriarchal Indian society has fundamentally changed the way the activists see themselves. They finance all their actions themselves – through donations or the sale of self-produced “Hargila merchandise”. However, the proceeds do not only benefit animal protection. Thanks to it, the women have also succeeded in gaining a measure of economic independence.
We accompany Purnima Devi Burman and the extraordinary women of the Hargila Army in their fight for the survival of the animals – and thus of the local ecosystem.


WRITER & DIRECTOR: Surabhi Tandon     CAMERA & SOUND: Surabhi Tandon, Grant Davis      EDITOR: Josef van Ooyen     NARRATOR: Hildegard Meier     MUSIC: Claude Chalhoub COMMISSIONING EDITOR: Marita Hübinger (ARTE)