Amur Falcons approach Naga sky
Dimapur, September 18
Local communities living in and around the forested areas of Doyang river in Wokha district are gearing up for the biggest wildlife event of the year in the state of Nagaland–the arrival of hundred thousands of the migratory bird, the Amur Falcon.
Flocks over flocks of the small winged predator will be roosting in and around the forested areas of the small corporate township that have grown up around the Doyang Hydro Electric Project. The birds come to roost during the closing month of September and through to October before continuing on their migratory journey to warmer places.
Lodges, sightseeing facilities, mementos and take-away and other tourist amenities are already being prepared in anticipation of wildlife lovers and tourist who will be travelling to Doyang for the spectacle. Tourists and local visitors are welcomed by conservation activists and community business organizers as the time for the birds to reach Nagaland nears.
A meeting of a group calling itself the “Amur Falcon Roosting Area Union” in Pangti village under Wokha district was convened on September 13. During the meeting, the members of the union deliberated at length matters relating to the arrival of the small aerial predator, the Amur Falcon.
During the meeting, the union ‘unanimously resolved’ to ‘once again like every year’ give all support to the protection of the migratory birds during their month-long stay in the reserved forest areas adjoining Pangti village and Doyang river reservoir, the union stated in a press release that was issued to the media on Friday, September 18.
The protection has resulted in “zero killing in the past two years”, the union said, and acknowledged many renowned international media agencies and organizations, research personalities and tourists that visited the roosting site last year.
“Last year as per the union record around 3, 020 visitors were recorded including 15 foreigners, 32 persons from other parts of India. While expecting more visitors from all over the world this season, the union informed all the visitors to acknowledge and avail the free services of the union volunteers as guide and translators at the union two entry point (reception) stationed at Woroemen and Raphaphen junction respectively,” the union stated in the press release.
The union asked individuals and agencies to inform the union “of every details relating to Amur Falcon during their visit.”
The union has arranged places for visitors who plan ‘home stay.’ The lodging services are at “very reasonable prices,” the group said. Those planning to visit the area may contact the union’s president and general secretary at the phone numbers +918414953472 and +918414834044, respectively.
‘The union further request all visitors to note some important cautions during their visit for better and fruitful visit when they reached the main entry point at Raphaphen junction (1) maintain speed limit of 20 to 30 kmph (2) Not to wear colourful dresses (3) maintain free noise pollution like blowing horn, use of loud music etc,’ the union stipulated in its statement. The union added that the roosting areas were a ‘no smoking zone.’
The Amur Falcon
The Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) is a small raptor of the falcon family. It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa.
It was earlier treated as a subspecies of the red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus) and known as the eastern red-footed falcon. Males are dark grey with reddish brown thighs and under-tail coverts; reddish orange eye-ring, cere, and feet. Females are duller above with dark scaly markings on white underparts, an orange eye ring, cere, and legs. Only a pale wash of rufous is visible on their thighs and undertail coverts.
Their diet consists mainly of insects such as termites and during migration over the sea. They are thought to feed on migrating dragonflies. The route that they take from Africa back to their breeding grounds is as yet unclear.
The wide breeding range and large population size of the Amur falcon have led to the species being assessed as being of least concern.
The flocking behavior during migration and the density at which they occur however expose them to hunting and other threats. During their migration from their breeding area to the winter quarters they are plump and are hunted for food in parts of northeastern India as well as in eastern Africa.
In 2012, mass trapping and capture of migrating Amur falcons in Nagaland (India) was reported in the media and a successful campaign was begun to prevent their killing. As part of this campaign, three birds were fitted with 5 gm satellite transmitters that allowed them to be tracked during their migration.