Guwahati, Oct 11, 2023, IANS
Imphal, Oct 11 (IANS): Forest officials and animal lovers of Zeliangrong Naga dominated Tamenglong district of Manipur are gearing up to greet and take multi-tasking measures to protect their winged guests, ‘Amur falcons’, while the district administration has put a ban on hunting, catching, killing and selling of the migratory birds besides prohibiting the use of air guns during the raptors’ roosting period.
Wildlife experts said that the long-distance migratory birds usually arrive in Manipur, mostly in the state’s Tamenglong district and neighbouring Nagaland and Assam, in mid-October from their breeding grounds in South Eastern Siberia and Northern China.
After a stop over for a little more than a month, the falcons, locally known as ‘Akhuaipuina’, depart the state and fly towards Southern and Eastern parts of Africa and roost a short time before moving towards their breeding grounds.
Manipur forest officials manning Tamenglong district as well as the Rainforest Club Tamenglong (RCT), a local animal lovers’ unit, have lined up a series of programmes to spread awareness among the villagers to protect and show their love to the winged guest during their stint in the state.
Like previous years, the 'Amur falcon dance festival' will be organised by the forest authorities in collaboration with the RCT next month.
“As part of our ensuing programme to safeguard Amur falcons, we will soon engage village volunteers to carry out patrolling along with our own forest guards at the roosting sites to thwart any attempt to kill and disturb the birds,” said divisional forest officer (Tamenglong), Amandeep.
He said: “This time, we are planning to tag satellite-transmitters on two healthy birds to study their migratory routes and for this purpose we have contacted scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).”
There are also plans of villages writing stories on the falcons, which will be published in various newspapers and journals, the officer added.
RCT secretary Ramhiamang Gonmei said that they would reach out to the youth, including college and school students, with the awareness campaigns.
“Our members and volunteers are ready to launch the awareness programmes to safeguard the falcons,” he said, adding that they have selected volunteers to join hands with forest guards to kick off patrolling at the roosting sites.
Most of the falcons usually roost in large numbers at the forest along Barak and Irang rivers, he said.
A few days back, Deputy Commissioner (Tamenglong), L. Angshim Dangshawa, in view of the migratory birds’ arrival, had ordered a ban on killing, hunting, catching and hunting of the falcons.
The DC’s order also banned the use of air guns in the district and asked the air gun owners to deposit them in the respective village authorities’ offices.
The measures to protect and safeguard the Amur falcon as a joint initiative of the community along with the state forest department is a welcome development that has successfully thwarted the large-scale poaching of the migratory birds in the district by unaware villagers.
Nagas and other tribals, known for their love for meat, had for decades considered these birds as ‘god-sent’ when they had first arrived till 2012.
Thousands of birds were caught and consumed every year before 2012, but massive efforts involving the villagers to protect the migratory birds in Nagaland had resulted in near-zero casualties since 2013.
The conservation of Amur falcons and other migratory birds helped promote tourism in Nagaland as hundreds of tourists assembled along the lakes and water bodies in Wokha and adjoining districts adjoining Assam.
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