The incredible and mysterious journey of Amur Falcon – Part 2

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RK Birjit Singh

(Contd from yesterday)
Millions of Amur falcons were massacred in a two week hunting frenzy for recreation at Doyang area of Wokha district in Nagaland during October, 2012. The total killed can be determined through a simple calculation. A single hunter downs 800 falcons in a day and there were more than 200 hunters hunting for almost two weeks.
The total killed is thus arrived as: 1 hunter down 800 falcons a day; In 2 weeks the total number downed by a hunter = 800 x 7x 2 = 11200; 200 hunters in two weeks = 200 x 11200 = 2,240,000

Coincidentally, by the time when Amur falcon was slaughtered in Nagaland, India had just finished participating in a high profile United Nations Summit on Conventions on Biological Diversity (CBD), reaffirming its commitments being a signatory to the International Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) at Hyderabad in October, 2012 .
Photo and video reports provided by Ramki Srinivasan was shown to Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, the then Minister, Environment and Forests, Govt. India by Dr. Asad Rahmani, former Director, BNHS. Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan immediately took action and wrote to Nagaland Govt. to take immediate steps to stop the massacre of Amur falcon. Mrs. Natarajan even sought an action taken report in this regard. The news went viral and almost every major print and electronic media in India and world covered the news.
Conservation: Conservation initiatives has been taken up both in Manipur and Nagaland by the Bombay Natural History (BNHS), Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN) in association with the local NGO’s and Dailong village in Tamenglong district spearheaded the campaign in Manipur as an epicenter for the conservation of Amur falcon evoking legendary folklore of the species and relationship with the people of Rongmei tribes. The legendary folklore of the Rongmei tribes regarding Amur falcon had played a crucial role in the protection and conservation of the species before it is too late.

Although, hunting of Amur falcon for meat and recreation were rampant in the past in Tamenglong district of Manipur but it has been controlled in a significant level under the initiatives of the villagers of Dailong, DEEPS and Rainforest Club, Tamenglong supported by Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN) and Forest Dept.

As part of the conservation activities of the species, the 1st Amur falcon Dance Festival has been observed in October, 2015 as an annual calendar program in a grand manner under the able leadership of Dr. Chambou Gonmei, Chief Medical Officer, Tamenglong district supported by the Forest Dept. Govt. of Manipur and Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN). The festival was participated by thousands of people from different walk of life. A series of awareness campaign were conducted by District Forest Office, Tamenglong led by Kh. Hitler Singh, Range Officer.

Amur falcon is protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Conventions of Migratory Species (CMS) of which India is a signatory. It is listed as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN. But immense number does not immunize a species from extinction.

Why Are Birds of Prey Important to Ecology? ; Why are Birds of Prey so important?
The presence of raptors in the wild serves as a barometer of ecological health. Birds of prey are predators at the top of the food chain; because pesticides, drought and habitat loss have the most dramatic impact on top predators. The raptors also play an important ecological role by controlling populations of rodents and other small mammals.

Raptors have been called “ecological barometers,” which simply means they help us gauge how healthy a habitat is. Birds of prey are extremely sensitive to many environmental changes in an ecosystem. They can even sense chemical and pollutant levels that can give people an early warning of any impending airborne threats. Pesticides and other chemicals can build up in our environment and are passed on to animals. This can lower raptor populations due to birds ingesting prey riddled with toxins, which in turn signals scientists that a possible problem exists.

The other states of the country have fancy indoor laboratories where biologist can manipulate DNA or colonies of organisms. But few have such a rich forest, rivers and rivulets, landscapes and magnificent diversity of life in their doorsteps. The Tamenglong district is full of natural resources having blessed with richest biodiversity, an extraordinary living laboratory of the state, some of the last healthiest tropical forest left in the country. But its rich biodiversity and wildlife is yet to be explored biologically whereas extinction and extermination of precious wildlife species is gaining momentum as never before due to habitat loss, indiscriminate and rampant hunting.

Truly, Dailong village and many other parts of the district can be converted into a living laboratory to get a student out of their conventional research room and laboratories into the forest, river, streams and caves, where they can begin the transformation to becoming a scientist. The future of the state like Manipur depends upon wise decision of resource management. Poor decision could leave little beyond a ruined biodiversity and environment with a poor lifestyle of the future generations.

Therefore, measures are suggested to promote scientifically planned and carefully monitored ecotourism in Dailong, Phallong and other villages as it can be a highly desired destination of the budding researchers, scientists and field biologists and steps should be taken up to train local volunteers to guide the tourist in collaboration with organisations who have expertise in this field.

“God loved birds and created trees, human loved birds and created cages”
“Each and every animal on earth has as much right to be here as you and me”. (Concluded)

(The writer is State Coordinator, Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), Manipur and Member, Manipur Biodiversity Board)

Source: The Sangai Express

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