Date:

Never too late to protect our migratory friend Akhuaipuina

12 October 2017

IMPHAL | Oct 11

Come October and thousands of Amur Falcons, also known as Akhuaipuina by the locals of Tamenglong, start arriving in this hill district of the state and Wokha district in Nagaland.

Amur Falcon (Falco Amurensis) is a small bird weighing just about 100 to 150 grams and measuring 25 to 30cm in length, the male mostly grey in colour and the female having dark teak cream or orange underpants. The eye ring and legs are orange in colour.

Amur falcons are absolutely stunning in the wild and sought after by birders and wildlife photographers. To these people their value cannot be measured by money and materialistic thing. 

The Amur falcon species inhabit in open woods and marshes during the breeding season, migrating birds roost and stay near open forest. These falcon species feed on insects, capturing them in the air on the ground. They are known to feed on small birds and frogs. During their migration, it is believed that their diet mainly consists of migrating dragonflies.

Its breeding season is between May and June. Abandoned nest platforms belonging to other birds and tree hollows are used for nesting. The clutch may contain three to four eggs. Both the parents take part in incubating eggs and feeding chicks.

The bird breeds in Northeastern Asia, the species flies non-stop from Mongolia to Northeast India covering 5,600km in five days and nights. The birds halt briefly in Myanmar and after a month or so they reach central and western India en route to South Africa. This raptor has one of the longest migration routes of all birds, doing up to 22,000 km in year. And the birds are expected to stay in Tamenglong till November.

The people of Tamenglong see the falcons as messengers of God, their arrival indicates a good year and bountiful harvest. The birds eat winged termites and other insects that destroy crops.

However the younger generations started decimating them by using nets, slingshots and guns. Since the species is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, western forest division of Tamenglong and Rain Forest Club of Tamenglong organised various campaigns, seminars in different villages to give awareness and the importance of the friendly visitor.

What is encouraging is that of late, people from all walks of life, youths in particular have joined hands for conservation. As a part of the awareness campaign Amur falcon festival is also going to be organised in Tamenglong district headquarters on November 3.  After various campaigns and awareness most bird catchers have turned bird lovers and the species is recognised as friends of the tribal. 

India is signatory to the convention of migratory species and thus have a duty under the international law to ensure that the killing and consumption of migratory bird in our land is strictly prohibited.

The government, NGOs, civil bodies, and the churches need to educate about the amazing journey of this birds so that in return they will pass on the message of conservation to hunters and children.

In Nagaland the government has even threatened to stop grants to villages involved in hunting the falcons. Village councils agreed to make the hunting of the falcon illegal, and levied a fine of Rs. 5000 against any hunters.

It may be noted that the former Union minister for environment, Prakash Javedkar announced that Doyang lake in Wokha district of Nagaland areas would be developed as an eco-tourism spot for bird watchers.

It will be wise if the state government also take initiatives in implementing strict laws in conserving this bird and should also look for an eco-tourism spot in Tamenglong district where the bird lovers and tourists can come and see these beautiful birds.

During the state festivals, like Orange festival, Pineapple festival, Sangai Festival, Shirui Festival, Barak Festival, Lui Ngai-ni, Kut etc., the state government can also campaign and create awareness about the importance of Amur falcons.

        

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Imphal Free Press is a widely circulated English daily published in Manipur, North-East India. Started in 1996, it has relocated its head office from Sega Road, Imphal to Palace Gate, Imphal.

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