Amur Falcons: Rustle in the skies


Every October, flocks of Amur falcons from Siberia start landing in a tiny village called Pangti, near the Doyang reservoir, in Wokha district of Nagaland. Tens of thousands of these small raptors (Falco amurensis) frolic in the village for about two months before they head for warmer climes in Kenya and South Africa in a non-stop flight over the Arabian Sea.

Till 2012, thousands of them would not make that onward journey. They would be hunted down by the villagers for their meat. The same hunters have now turned the birds’ protectors. Concerted efforts by the State government and non-governmental organisations, with the cooperation of the villagers, have paid off. Bano Haralu, managing trustee of the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Trust, has been the lead player in the conservation efforts. The village council offers her support.

In all probability, the Doyang reservoir, surrounded by hills, hosts the single largest congregation of Amur falcons anywhere in the world. The abundance of water and insects to feed on is a magnet for the birds.

The falcons, which roost in parts of Manipur, Meghalaya and Assam too, have one of the longest migration routes, flying almost 22,000 km up and down their breeding and wintering grounds. They are known to breed in southeast Russia and northern China. The falcon is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Nagaland government has been strict in enforcing the ban on killing them. The State hosted the first Amur Falcon Conservation Week from November 8 to 10.

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