In response to the article “Killing of Amur falcons goes unchecked in Manipur Tamenglong hills” dated 31st Oct 2022 by Jimmy Pamei, Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) which is locally known as “Akhuaipuina” in the Rongmei dialect is a pigeon size raptor, which is a long distance migratory bird. They breed in the Siberian countries of the catchment of Amur river in part of Russia, China and Mongolia. They breed in summer in the breeding site from May to September. They are on their migration journey from October to April every year and they cover about 29000 km annually in their migration journey.
The falcons stay for about 45-50 days in Tamenglong district of Manipur and adjoining north eastern part of the Indian states during October to November before embarking on further migration towards southern Africa. As always, the raptor arrived in Tamenglong district in the second week of October 2022.
Regarding the question where have all the forest protectors gone mentioned in the said article, it can be recalled that the district administration had issued an order dated 10 October 2022 that bans hunting, catching, killing and selling of the bird Amur falcon and to deposit all the airguns in the custody of Village Authority till the birds leave. Moreover, the Tamenglong Forest Department has also issued an order in the vernacular language in local media.
As a part of the protection efforts, the Tamenglong Forest Department has been carrying out different activities like engagement of village-level protection volunteers in Matung, Guangram, Puiching, Phalong, Duigailong, Khangchuiluan and Chiuluan villages, village-level awareness programme, Patrolling of Tamenglong Forest Division staffs with Tamenglong Police, Poster campaign in Tamenglong Town, Checking of Tamenglong Market on regular basis by Forest Staffs, Awareness programmes in school and college level with the collaboration of Rainforest Club Tamenglong and 24x7 vigilant by Tamenglong Forest Staffs and Tamenglong Police in an around the roosting site at the bank of Barak river.
No doubt, there are some culprits who disobeyed the order of the Government but still the concerned department is tackling the situation with all might to content the hunting of the birds.
Four persons have been arrested along with their air guns by the Department and action has been taken under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The Forest Department has come across many wildlife conservation enthusiasts like Puching Youth Club, where they have passed a resolution to impose a fine of Rs 5000 to any individual who kill or hunt Amur falcon birds within their village jurisdiction, the chairman of Duigailong village who himself went to check the illegal activities in and around the roosting site of the Amur falcon and many more. Therefore, giving a sweeping statement in the state media without acknowledging the efforts of the concerned department and people engaging in this conservation effort is totally unacceptable and uncalled for. We would like to appeal to all the civil organizations, village authorities, clubs and media fraternity to help the department in this conservation effort.
—Joel Gangmei, Range Forest Officer, Tamenglong district, Manipur