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Imphal, November 10, 2018 (DIPR): Forest and Environment Minister Shri Thounaojam Shyamkumar today informed that the migratory bird Amur Falcon which was satellite tagged and named ‘Manipur’ at Tamenglong district has been killed by unknown miscreants at Kebuching bordering Tamenglong and Noney districts. Saddened over the incident, he said cancellation of gun licence (air guns) will be discussed in the Cabinet meet soon.
On 4th November, 2018, a team of officials led by Dr Suresh Kumar of Wildlife Institute of India, Forest Department Tamenglong including DFO Arun RS and Peter, Raptor Biologists from Hungary captured five Amur Falcons using canopy mist-nets at a community forests area of Chiuluan village along the Barak river in Tamenglong district.
Following assessment for body and feather condition, two fittest birds out of five were attached with GPS satellite tags and released in the morning of 5th November. Male bird was named ‘Manipur’ while the female was named as ‘Tamenglong’. The satellite tagging of the two Amur Falcons were informed to the villagers of Tamenglong on the day of the ‘4th Amur Falcon Festival’ held at the district. On 8th November, Tamenglong District Administration had also issued an order strictly prohibiting use of air guns along Irang river near Gwangram, Puching, Rangkhung and Taobam villages.
Addressing the media persons at his New Secretariat office today, Minister Th. Shyamkumar termed the hunting incident as very unfortunate and shocking as the Forest Department along with the team of experts are on a mission to save and monitor the movements of the migratory bird. He informed that the satellite instrument was handed over to Forest Department in Noney.
Stating that stricter rules and intense awareness campaign are needed at this moment, he said those involved in the incident will not be spared. He said the Forest Department officials have been continuously involved in awareness campaign collaborating with the local leaders and clubs and sought active participation from the media in the campaign.
He said this time Forest Department organised campaign along with the Rainforest Club and organised door to door campaign involving local leaders in 20 villages in Tamenglong district, where large number of Amur Falcons flock at this time every year for roosting.
He appealed to the people of the State and other departments to come forward to help in saving the migratory bird Amur Falcon and wildlife, saying that wildlife is needed for existence of whole eco-system.
Arun RS, DFO Tamenglong said analysis of the tracking data after the immediate release of ‘Manipur’, male Amur Falcon showed that it moved to a site 3 kms southeast of Punglam village along the Irang river where it roosted. The next two days, ‘Manipur’ foraged in around the Irang river between Punglam – Kabui Khullen – Nagaching – Bhalok and returned to roost along the Irang river, he added.
He further informed that ‘Tamenglong’, the female Amur Falcon moved to the Barak river roost site and remained in the area for the next two days and on 7th November it arrived at the Irang river site and roosted, where the ‘Manipur’ was also roosting. He said ‘Tamenglong ’ also foraged in the area between Punglam – Kabui Khullen – Nagaching and returned every day to roost at the Irang river site.
He said more teams of Forest Department have rushed in the Irang river area as the surviving female bird ‘Tamenglong’ has been tracked in the nearby location so that more awareness can spread to the villagers. He said Forest Department, District Administration, Police Department, other departments and local leaders are collaborating for monitoring and protection of the Amur Falcons at all the roost sites.
Dr Suresh Kumar, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun said that each satellite equipment cost Rs 1.5 lakh and additional Rs 1 lakh to retrieve the data of the journey of the bird. He said that series of awareness campaign is needed so that people do not hunt the bird.
Amur Falcons weighing on average 160 grams are long-distance migratory birds and arrives in North East India mainly in Manipur and Nagaland on their south-bound migration during October 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.
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 stop-over site in North East India becomes extremely crucial to the Amur Falcons as they need to make a five to six days non-stop flight across the Peninsular India and then make a sea crossing over the Arabian Sea to their next stop-over site in Somalia.
Due to the abundant termite and other insect food available to the Amur Falcons in Manipur and Nagaland, it is now learnt that almost all of the world’s Amur Falcons pass through this region. To support the conservation efforts initiated by State Forest Department for protection of the Amur Falcons during their migratory stop-over in Tamenglong district a satellite tracking program to understand the movements of the birds was taken up. (DIPR)