Correspondent HAFLONG, Nov 4 - Hundreds of bird- lovers from various parts of the state have thronged New Tumbung village near the NEEPCO reservoir at Umrangso, 112 kms from Haflong, as the migratory Amur falcons have started arriving since October 7.
The Amur falcon (falco amurensis) is a small raptor of the falcon family and breeds in south-eastern Siberia and northern China.The birds migrate in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in South Africa. These migratory birds from Siberia and China stop over at Umrangso in the central Assam district during their annual aerial journey to South Africa.
The males are dark grey with reddish brown thighs and undertail coverts, reddish orange eye-ring and feet. The females are duller above, with dark scaly markings on the white underparts, an orange eye ring and legs. Only a pale wash of rufous is visible on their thighs and undertail coverts. Their diet consists mainly of insects such as termites during migration over the sea. They are believed to feed on migrating dragonflies.
Earlier, these small raptors were reportedly killed for meat, but after organising awareness campaigns to provide safe passage to Amur falcons by the Forest Department, NGOs and social activists, now-a-days killing of Amur falcons has stopped.
Moreover, the Forest Department personnel have undertaken protection duty round the clock during the period of their migration through Dima Hasao.
Range Officer Joitholal Hojai said during the period of migration more than 10 forest staff are engaged day and night to protect these birds in and around the roosting hub. Further, a series of awareness campaigns were also organised among the concerned people in regard to protection of these raptors.
Meanwhile, the NC Hills Autonomous Council has organised a Falcon Festival from November 15 to 17 at the Golf Course in order to create awareness among the masses for the birds’ protection and preservation. Golongjo Thaosen, Executive Member of NC Hills Autonomous Council along with MACs Nojit Kemprai and Ratan Jarambusa have been camping there to supervise the preparation of the proposed Falcon Festival.
Thaosen, while talking to the media, said the festival in being organised to create awareness among the masses regarding the need to protect the bird, promote tourism and to generate income for the youths while showcasing tradition, culture and ethnic food of various communities living in Dima Hasao.
While inviting people from other states to witness the Falcon Festival and taste the various lip-smacking ethnic cuisine, he informed that preparation for the festival was going on in full swing and surface communication was being spruced up so that no hurdles are faced by the visitors while reaching Umrangso by road.