GUWAHATI, Oct 21 – Nagaland’s Wokha district has been bustling with excitement since the first batch of Amur falcons arrived in the Doyang reservoir area last week.
The villagers of Ashaa, Pangti and Sungro have once again reaffirmed their last year’s commitment and dedication to protect the falcons with the support of the Nagaland Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
In their incredible journey, the Amur falcons (Falco amurensis) travel from Mongolia, roost in Nagaland for over a month before carrying onwards to Africa. A protected species under the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), tens of thousands of these raptors congregate near the Doyang reservoir in Nagaland every year and this is believed to be the single largest congregation of Amur falcons recorded anywhere in India.
In 2012, reports from Conservation India highlighted that majority of the birds were being hunted, prompting a Rapid Action Project (RAP) to protect the birds by WTI and Natural Nagas with the assistance of the State Forest Department supported by CAF India. An awareness campaign was initiated to gain the local community’s support and also sensitize them on the need to conserve the visiting guests.
Awareness meetings, conducted in different parts of Wokha, emphasized the ecological and ethical importance of the Amur falcons and urged villagers to ensure safe passage of these migratory birds.
The local community, including the village council heads and local forest department authorities, enthusiastically participated in this campaign demonstrating their support to the cause.
Local churches also played a role in spreading the message of compassion for Amur falcon, and thus motivating the community to come forward to protect the falcons during their roosting period in Nagaland.
An MoU was signed and a subsequent resolution passed by the village councils of Pangti, Ashaa and Sungro, making hunting Amur falcons illegal and punishable, which helped in reaching a zero mortality rate in Doyang by the end of the birds’ roosting period.
This year with the return of the birds to Nagaland a ‘welcome programme’ was organized by the Forest Department in the honour of the falcons on October 1, 2014, at Pangti village, with support from WTI and the district administration. Forest Minister of Nagaland, Dr Nicky Kire as the chief guest inaugurated two watch towers – one constructed by the State Forest Department and the other by Nagaland Bamboo Mission – to witness the phenomenon of mass migration of these birds. The minister also distributed the equipment given by WTI to the protection squads constituted in the roosting area.