People in Wokha district in Nagaland are preparing for the arrival of a special guest. Nay, it is not just one guest, but a huge flock of birds – Amur falcons – from Siberia, which will make a four to five week stop-over in Wokha en route to South Africa.
“The birds have in fact started arriving in small groups, and we expect thousands of them in the next two to three weeks,” said Nagaland principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) M Lokeswara Rao from Kohima.
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The Amur falcons start their annual sojourn from south-eastern Siberia and Northern China to Northeastern India, roost in Nagaland and some adjoining Assam districts before leaving for southern Africa where they spend the winter. The most amazing part of their flight is the three-and-a-half days non-stop flight across the Arabian Sea.
“While the conservation efforts of the people of Nagaland, more particularly of Wokha district have brought them laurels, the department of posts has agreed to release a special postal cover next month to mark the occasion,” Rao told The Indian Express. The special cover will be released on November 7, during the Lotha Festival to be held in Kohima, he said.
Rao said that two of the three falcons which were fitted with satellite-tracking chips in 2013 are on the way for the third consecutive year. Named Pangti and Naga – Pangti being one of the first Wokha villages to have initiated the conservation programme – the birds are expected any day, he informed.
Interestingly, while the birds make a cycle of 44,000 kms annually from Siberia, through Nagaland to southern Africa, they take a different route during their return journey, touching Maharashtra and Gujarat. From this year they were reportedly also sighted in Barmer, Phalodi, Bikaner and Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, people in Wokha district in Nagaland, are preparing to not only welcome the avian visitors but also hundreds of tourists and bird-watchers from different parts of the globe. “People in Wokha have set up home-stay facilities for tourists and bird-watchers. Till four years ago many people were killing the birds for their meat. But today not a single bird is touched,” said Bano Haralu, journalist-turned-conservationist whose NGO Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) is among several groups that have ensured that the birds are safe in Nagaland.