Tamenglong, October 11, 2017: Akhuaipuina as the people of Tamenglong called it the Amur Falcons, every year starting from first week of October thousands of Amur Falcons arrived in Tamenlong district of Manipur and Wokha district in Nagaland. Amur Falcon, Falco amurensis is a small bird weighing just about 100 to 150 grams and measuring 25 to 30cm in length, the male mostly grey in colour and the females having dark treak cream or orange underpants. The eye ring, cere and legs are orange in colour.
The Amur falcon species inhabit in open woods and marshes during the breeding season, migrating birds roost and stay near open forest. These falcon species feed on insects, capturing them in the air on the ground. They are known to feed on small birds and frogs. During their migration, it is believed that their diet mainly consists of migrating dragon-flies.
The Amur falcon breeding season is between May and June. Abandoned nest platforms belonging to other birds and tree hollows are used for nesting. The clutch may contain three to four eggs. Both the parents take part in incubating eggs and feeding chicks.
The Amur falcon breeds in northeastern Asia, the species flies non-stop from Mongolia to northeast India covering 5,600km in five days and nights. The birds halt briefly in Myanmar and after a month or so they reach central and western India en route to South Africa. This raptor has one of the longest migration route of all birds, doing up to 22,000 km in year. And the birds are expected to stay in Tamenglong till November.
The people of Tamenglong see the falcons as messengers of God, their arrival indicates a good year and bountiful harvest. The birds eat winged termites and other insects that destroy crops. However the younger generations started decimating them by using nets, slingshots and guns. Since the species is protected under the Wildlife (Protection)Act 1972, Western Forest division of Tamenglong and Rain Forest Club of Tamenglong organised a various campaings, seminars in different villages of Tamenglong district giving awareness and the importance of the Amur Falcon. More recently, people from all walks of life, youths in particular have joined hands for conservation. As a part of the awareness campaign it is learnt that the Amur falcon festival is also going to be organised in Tamenglong district headquarters on November 3, 2017. After various campaings and awareness most bird catchers have turned bird lovers and the species is recognised as friends of the tribals.
It is our responsibility as Earth citizens and also our duty to reach out to the people, villages level, regional level and national level to create awareness in conserving the Amur falcons. India is signatory to the convention of Migratory species and thus have a duty under the international law to ensure that the killing and consumption of migratory bird in our land is strictly prohibited. The government, NGOs, civil society, and the churches need to educate about the amazing journey of this birds so that in return they will pass on the message of conservation to hunters and children. In Nagaland the government has even threatend to stop grants to villages involved in hunting the falcons. Village councils agreed to make the hunting of the falcons illegal, and levied a fine of Rs 5000 on any hunters. Amur falcons are absolutely stunning in the wild and sought after by birders and wildlife photographers. To these people their value cannot be measured by money and materialistic thing.
Seeing the beauty and the amazing journey of these birds former Union Minister for Environment, Prakash Javedkar announced that Doyang lake in wokha district of Nagaland areas would be developed as an eco tourism spot for bird watchers. It will be wise if our Manipur government also take initiatives in implementing strict laws in conserving this birds and should also look for a eco tourism spot in Tamenglong District where the bird lovers and tourists can come and see these beautiful birds. During the state festivals, like Orange festival, Pineapple festival, Sangai Festival, Shirui Festival, Barak Festival, Lui Ngai-ni, Kut etc., the Manipur government can also campaigns and create awareness about the importance of Amur falcons through advertisement, speech, seminars and lectures.
Above that the media needs to play a bigger role in highlighting the beautiful bird by making documentary, short films, print and electronic advertisment in various national, international and local platform so that the whole world knows that this beautiful bird Amur Falcon flies over our beautiful land Manipur. And also we the people of Tamenglong in Particualr should “extend our hospitality” towards our “esteemed guests” the Amur Falcons, by not hunting and killing for the sake of consumption and trade which comes once in a year bringing joy and wealth in our lives. (DIO Tamenglong)