Over two lakh Amur falcons who have migrated to Nagaland for a two-month long roosting period,have attracted worldwide attention with a team of scientists arriving in the hill state to conduct a study and carry out satellite tagging of the birds to track their movement.
The scientists will tag five of the birds with antennae and subsequently track them through satellite. The team comprises members of the Ministry of Environment and Forests,Wildlife Trust of India (WTI),UN Environment Programme and two scientists one from Hungary and the other from Abu Dhabi.
This is the first such operation with Amur falcons in India. The birds,(Falco amurensis) migrate to Nagaland from Siberia in October and leave by the last week of November when they embark on a three day journey across the Indian Ocean to Somalia,Kenya and South Africa.
The Amur falcons have been coming to Nagaland for the past seven to eight years but scientists are cannot ascertain why they have chosen the Doyang reserve for their roost, M Lokeswara Rao,Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,Nagaland told The Indian Express.
He said the fact that the birds come from Mongolia,stay in Nagaland for two months and then fly straight to South Africa is amazing as the they are not to big.
He surmised that a reason for them picking Nagaland could be that the birds feed on termites that are widely available in the jhum cultivation sites in the states hills. But this requires detailed study.
Now,a key requirements is a conservation action plan for a comprehensive understanding of their seasonal migration patterns, he said. As the species migrates over long distances,there is a need to use specialised satellite transmitters,which can track their seasonal movements.
The falcons also attracted attention after thousands were killed in and around Doyang for their meat. The state forest department along with the WTI and other agencies were forced to intervene and launch an awareness campaign.
Their efforts seem to have paid off. There has not been a single killing this year. We have roped in the local community,the Church and students to help prevent the killings, Rao said. Last year,Village Council members of Pangti,Asshaa and Sungro villages near the reserve had also signed a tripartite MoU with WTI and a local NGO called Natural Nagas,to assist the forest department in ending the hunt.