Large numbers of Amur falcons arrive in Manipur’s Tamenglong

Awareness campaigns hope to protect the migratory birds

Forest officials and bird lovers are overjoyed that Amur falcons have started arriving in large numbers at Manipur’s Tamenglong district. Tens of thousands of the birds will stay till the end of December in almost all the hill districts of Manipur and some parts of Nagaland.

Also Read: Manipur government issues orders for the protection of visiting Amur falcons

Forest officials said that awareness campaigns will be launched in the districts of Tamenglong, Senapati, Churachandpur, Ukhrul and Kamjong. It shall be made known that trapping the birds is punishable under Section 50/51 of the Manipur Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

In the past, it was common to see live and trussed or smoked and roasted Amur falcons in Tamenglong’s village markets. However, village elders, who regard the migratory birds as farmers’ friends that eat up insects which destroy paddy and other crops, prevailed upon professional bird hunters and youth, to not to kill the avian wonders. Collectors of the hill districts also launched awareness programmes that yielded results. Initially, the migratory birds were seen in Tamenglong district, which borders Nagaland, but officials said they are now sighted in other hill districts also.

Forest officials caught and released some Amur falcons with satellite tagging to monitor their onward journey. A male and a female Amur falcon were released last year with satellite tags, but the female was shot dead and the male bird was seen waiting for his mate. Amur falcon pairs are lifelong partners.

Officials of the Wildlife Institute of India recently found that there are three habitats of Amur falcons along the Tuivai river in Churachandpur district bordering Myanmar. On their long journey, they also visit Sri Lanka.

Conservationists worry that the Amur falcons may stop visiting Manipur due to hunting, climatic changes, deforestation of the hill tracts, and other human intrusion. Widespread use of insecticides has also depleted their prey base.

Official reports say that the number and variety of migratory birds that used to visit Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in northeast India, has fallen rapidly as a result.

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