Zero to Hero
Not long ago, Nagaland gained notoriety for hunting Amur falcons en masse for consumption and commercial sale. It will still remain fresh in the minds of many as the tragic fate these little raptors met during its short sojourn in the state attracted global attention. What seemed like a molehill for ages suddenly turned into a mountain with both the national and international media taking extra interest on the matter and running footage of villagers carrying hordes of the exotic bird for consumption and sale, which was a source of livelihood for them for many years. But the public outcry against the killing of Amur falcons died as quickly as it escalated with the hunting ground being dramatically turned into a haven for the winged guests almost immediately. The hunters became conservationists overnight, thanks to the massive movement across the state to protect the migratory bird. Those who targeted the innocent villagers with expletives were all praise for the same people. It was an inspirational “zero to hero” story scripted by the common people, hunters, NGOs, nature lovers, and the state government, or in short by the masses. Nick Williams, Head of the Coordinating Unit of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU), declared Nagaland as the Falcon capital of the world and described the scene he saw in the state as: “This is by far the largest and most spectacular roost of any species of falcon ever seen anywhere in the world, it represents a unique and irreplaceable part of the rich biodiversity of Nagaland.”
The incredible success story of Amur falcon protection may not have gone as far as the tragic one but it is and will continue to inspire thousands of people every day. In an interesting development, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has published a children’s book that depicts Nagaland’s journey to becoming the ‘falcon capital of the world.’ The book is titled: ‘So Long, Amur Falcon’, written by Prabha Nair. While the author and publishers may have decided to share the story with the hope of motivating children to understand the importance of preserving biodiversity, it turns to be a perfect way to introduce the forgotten state to young minds. Many from the state may not have to explain the geographical location of Nagaland to those from other Indian states because of this book. It will not only inspire readers but also give free publicity to the state, that too good publicity. Today, many countries are trying to influence others through soft power. We too should build a positive image through good deeds. After all, good deeds never go to waste.