Amur falcons Naga and Pangti, which were satellite-tagged in Nagaland, were on Thursday tracked flying over the Arabian Sea, the most difficult stretch of their migratory routes, after passing over Bangladesh, the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra towards their final destination in South Africa.
The third falcon, Wokha, was tracked flying over the Bay of Bengal.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and head of the Forest Force, Nagaland, M. Lokeswara Rao told The Hindu that the tracking began soon after the three birds were released on November 6 after satellite tags with an antenna and solar panel, weighing five grams, had been fitted on their back by a team of scientists.
“For the scientists, the arrival of Amur falcons in Nagaland on their long migration from Mongolia to South Africa is still a mystery. On their return flight, they will fly over Bangladesh and Myanmar after entering India but skip Nagaland. I asked this question to the team of scientists who carried out the satellite tagging. But they had no answer,” he said.
Since November 7, Naga, a male, had taken the route of Wokha in Nagaland, Assam, Bangladesh, the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka before entering the airspace over the Arabian Sea. During the same period, Pangti, a female, took the route of Wokha, Assam, Bangladesh, West Bengal, the Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra before beginning the journey over the Arabian Sea. Wokha, also a female, followed Pangti’s path and was tracked flying over the Bay of Bengal way behind the other two. The movements of all three birds are being monitored by scientists in Hungary, filtering satellite data through a dedicated website.
Every year, from October to November, a large number of Amur falcons arrive in the northeast, especially in Nagaland for roosting, from Southeastern Siberia and northern China en route to their final destinations — Somalia, Kenya and South Africa. Amur falcons travel up to 22,000 km a year — one of the longest distances of migration. This is the first time Amur falcons in Nagaland were satellite-tagged and their movements to South Africa are being monitored.
The tagging was a joint mission undertaken at Pangti village in Wokha district by two leading scientists from MME/BirdLife Hungary, Peter Fehervani and Szabolcs Soil; Nick Williams, Programme Officer — Birds of Prey (Raptors), Convention on Migratory Species Office Abu Dhabi, United Nations Environment Programme; R. Suresh, a scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India, and the Nagaland Forest Department. Pangti villagers helped the scientists in trapping the falcons and fitting the satellite tags.