Manipur gears up to welcome Amur Falcons
The falcons, locally known as 'Akhuaipuina', depart the state and fly towards Southern and Eastern parts of Africa

Imphal: Forest officials and animal lovers of Zeliangrong Naga-dominated Tamenglong district of Manipur are preparing to welcome and take multi-tasking measures to protect their winged guests, Amur falcons, even as the district administration has put a ban on hunting, catching, killing, and selling of the birds and air guns during the raptors’ roosting period.

The long-distance migratory birds usually arrive in Manipur, mostly in Tamenglong and neighbouring Nagaland in mid-October from their breeding grounds in South Eastern Siberia and Northern China, wildlife experts said.

After staying for a little more than a month, the falcons, locally known as Akhuaipuina, depart the state and fly towards Southern and Eastern parts of Africa and roost a short time before moving towards their breeding grounds, they added.

Manipur Forest officials manning Tamenglong as well as Rainforest Club Tamenglong (RCT), a local animal lovers’ unit, have lined up a series of programs to spread awareness among the villages to protect and show their love to the winged guest during their stint.

As done in previous years, the ‘Amur Falcon Dance Festival’ will also be held by the forest authorities in collaboration with RCT next month.

“As part of our ensuing program to safeguard Amur falcons, we will soon engage village volunteers for carrying out patrolling along with our own forest guards at the roosting sites to thwart any attempt to kill the birds,” divisional forest officer (Tamenglong) Amandeep said.

“This time, we are planning to tag satellite transmitters on two healthy birds to study their migratory routes, and for this purpose, we have contacted scientists of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII),” he said.

There are also plans to write stories on the falcons by the villages, and the same would be published, the officer added.

RCT secretary Ramhiamang Gonmei said that they would reach out to the youths, including college and school students with the awareness campaign.

“Our members and volunteers are all ready to launch the awareness program to safeguard the falcons in villages, colleges, and schools,” he said, adding that they have selected the volunteers to join hands with forest guards to kick off patrolling at the roosting sites.

Most of the falcons usually roost in large numbers in the forest along Barak and Irang rivers, he said.

A few days back, Deputy Commissioner (Tamenglong) Dr. L. Angshim Dangshawa, in view of the migratory birds’ arrival, ordered a ban on killing, hunting, catching, and hunting of the falcons. Invoking the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the measures have been taken up.

It also ordered a ban on all air guns in the district and that they should be deposited with the respective village authorities’ offices.

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“The concerned village authority shall keep the air guns deposited in their custody until the last flock leaves their roosting place or till November 2023,” it said.

The measures to protect, safeguard, and mystify the Amur Falcon as a joint initiative of the community along with the State Forest Department is a welcome development of recent times that has successfully thwarted the large-scale poaching of the migratory birds in the district by the then unaware villagers.

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