Migratory fellow creatures
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agas are renowned for their exceptional hospitality to visiting fellow humans from other places. In fact, our fame in this sector has spread worldwide. And this is deservingly so. The only irony is that we are generally not that hospitable to other fellow creatures from the wild or from the air or even underground.Every year in October and November, nature has, in its wisdom, decreed that thousands upon thousands of various birds notably the Amur falcon (falco amurensis) should sojourn for a while especially in the Doyang catchments area of Wokha district. This is no less than a spectacular phenomenon.
After breeding in South-Eastern Siberia (Mongolia) and Northern China this species of falcon spends the summer there and then its migratory passage is a stopover in the Naga Hills en route over the Indian Ocean to South Africa where it winters. Then it happily flies through another air route over the Arabian Sea but mostly overland back home to Siberia—unlike the thousands of thousands of Russian political dissidents/prisoners who populate the many concentration camps there.
Unfortunately, the local people of the Doyang area have for years been indulging in the ungainly practice of hunting and daily sale and slaughter of thousands of these feathered “visitors”. This poses a major threat to this beautiful bird which has also been sighted in other parts of Nagaland.
Conservation India, a non-profit, non-commercial agency that aims at facilitating wild life and nature conservation has in October 2012 provided valuable information in this regard and it raised an international outcry. Accordingly, the Forest department is doing its best to convince the people for conservation and ensure safe passage for this regularly visiting guest.
Various precautionary measures are being taken in this connection. The affected, or blessed, villages are now mandatorily entrusted with the onus of conservation of ecological environment, wild life preservation within their village jurisdictions. The Rural department has announced that grants-in-aid funds released to all the recognized villages in the State would have to be utilized for protection of environment. In case of negligence or failure to preserve the environment and wild life by a village, it would be penalized by stoppage of their funds. The villagers would also penalize individual offenders.
It is encouraging to learn that Village Council Members (VCMs) of Pangti, Ashaa and Sungro have signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the Natural Nagas, a Wokha-based NGO to assist the Forest Department to henceforth check the wide-scale hunting of the Amur falcon.
With proper planning and coordination, the positive aspects will also be attraction of eco-tourists to the Doyang area which would in turn boost much needed revenue from tourism. Other departments, will also be benefited in the long run.
Amur falcons are not the only migratory species. Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway between breeding and wintering grounds, undertaken by many other species of birds. Migratory birds are some of nature’s most magnificent creatures playing significant ecological, economic and cultural roles in whichever country they are associated with. World Migratory Bird Day was celebrated on May 10 and 11, 2013.
Other non-bird species are also migratory. For instance, the salmon is a large edible fish that matures in the salty sea notably the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and moves to freshwater streams in the hills of the USA to spawn. Their journey also covers thousands of miles. Folk lore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where it was born to spawn.
Perhaps Amur Falcon 95773 who has been equipped with a matchbox size GPS transmitter that will beam data to satellites orbiting 850 kms above the earth, may yet prove its journey although by air, is similar to that of the salmon fish.
More importantly each one of the migratory birds who escape the dragnets of Nagaland and survive to reach the plains of southern Africa feed on the billions of termites and maintain nature’s balance for the struggling agriculuralists. Each one of the thousands who make it to Southern Africa is proof over and over again of how interlinked we are on this planet and that our actions or inactions affects the universe in one way or other.