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Manipur: Five Amur falcons to be tagged with satellite transmitters

With the roosting season of the birds just days away, the Tamenglong district authority has put a complete ban on the use of air guns, with immediate effect from Saturday.

Manipur: Five Amur falcons to be tagged with satellite transmitters Weighing about 160 grams, the long-distance migratory birds arrive in North East India, mainly Manipur and Nagaland, in thousands for roosting. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Representational)

Manipur Forest Department is preparing to once again tag five Amur falcons with satellite transmitters this year, after it lost contact with one of the two falcons which were tagged with transmitters last year.

With the roosting season of the birds just days away, the Tamenglong district authority has put a complete ban on the use of air guns, with immediate effect from Saturday.

Villagers have been ordered to deposit their air guns at the respective village authority till the last flock of birds leaves their roosting places.

Weighing about 160 grams, the long-distance migratory birds arrive in North East India, mainly Manipur and Nagaland, in thousands for roosting. The birds are expected to arrive in Tamenglong by the second week of October.

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On November 4, 2018, two Amur falcons named ‘Tamenglong’ and ‘Manipur’ were tagged with satellite transmitters as a part of a project to study migratory birds during their stopover in Tamenglong district in the state. Unfortunately, ‘Manipur’ was killed by poachers in its roosting ground in the district four days after its release.

‘Tamenglong’ continued its journey for 5 days, 7 hours and covered a distance of 5,700 km and reached the African continent, where it lost contact over Zambia.

Arun RS, District Forest Officer (DFO) Tamenglong district, said that the department could not establish why it lost contact with the ‘Tamenglong’. “We don’t know what happened to Tamenglong. Whether it died or the transmitter stopped working”, he said.

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The DFO, however, said that the preparations are all set for tagging five more Amur falcons this year with help from Wildlife Institute of India (WII). He said that a team of scientists from WII led by Dr. Suresh Kumar, who led the tagging programme last year, will arrive on October 16.

Prior to that, two scientists from WII would be arriving on October 7 to conduct a preliminary analysis of different roosting sites.

The DFO said that the process of tagging the five birds is expected to last around 10 days, adding that it takes about three hours to tag one bird, ensuring their safety. The team of scientists will be assisted by two international photographers, a village elder from Nagaland, besides officials of the state forest department.

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Experts said that after roosting in the Northeast for about 45 days, the migratory birds will continue their southward journey. They come from their breeding grounds in Northern China, Eastern Mongolia and far East Russia en route to their wintering grounds in South Africa.

The one-way journey from their breeding to wintering grounds via India is about 20,000 kms and the birds do this twice a year, the expert added.

Amur falcons spend three to four weeks in many parts of Manipur to build fat reserves by foraging on termites that emerge during this time. As a result, this stopover in North East India becomes extremely crucial for the falcons as they need to fly for five to six days non-stop across Peninsular India and then make a sea crossing over the Arabian Sea to their next stopover in Somalia.

As per the expert, almost all of the world’s Amur falcons pass through this region for its abundant termite and other insect food available in Manipur and Nagaland.

First published on: 05-10-2019 at 10:14:03 pm
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