Amur Falcon campaign update — Season draws to a close with no killings! (Page 2)

Season drawing to a close with no killings! Department satellite tags 3 falcons. Updated on 25th Nov 2013

The passage migration of Amur Falcons through Nagaland is drawing to a close. The season lasted almost two months with the first birds arriving in early October. A big thank you and sincere congratulations to the Naga communities of Pangti, Sungro, Ashaa and Doyang villages who rose up to the occasion to provide safe passage to the falcons. Here is a delightful thank you message from Rohan Chakravarty!

Amur-Poster-CI

Nagaland Wildlife & Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) just finished a volunteer-driven survey across a dozen locations in Northeast India, recording their numbers, routes, and roosts, as well as hunting pressures. Conservation India will publish a report on this shortly.

Also, in a significant achievement, three Amur falcons were satellite tagged and released on Nov 6th 2013 in Pangti. The birds were named Naga, Wokha and Pangti. The three birds were fitted with satellite tags with antenna and solar panel weighing 5 gram on their back.

The tagged birds' migration can be monitored from this website.

Male 'Naga' has Color Ring number KAM, Ring Number C56801; female 'Wokha' Color Ring Number KCM, Ring Number C56802 and another female 'Pangti' has Color Ring Number KFM, Ring Number C56803. All three birds have reached Africa. Click here to view their route.

The satellite tagging was an initiative of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Convention on Migratory Species Office (CMS), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Nagaland forest department.

Chief Minister of Nagaland visits Amur Falcon roost site in support of the conservation initiative by the community Updated on 13th Nov 2013

The migration of the Amur Falcons continues in full swing in Doyang, Nagaland, and there continues to be no killings reported so far!

Amur-Poster-CI

To extend his support to the ongoing conservation efforts and to witness first hand the Amur Falcon spectacle, the Nagaland Chief Minister Mr. Neiphiu Rio visited Doyang.

On Sunday, the CM arrived with his wife as well as Minister for Environment and Forests Y Patton, Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Husbandry Yitachu, Parliamentary Secretary Labour and Employment Dr. Nicky Kire and several senior officers from the district administration, police and forest department.

He personally witnessed the spectacle of migrating Amur Falcon congregations and was truly delighted. He photographed them for over two hours. He later addressed the assembled community members, thanked them for their spectacular conservation efforts and listened to Amur Falcon songs sung by our (NWBCT's) ecoclub members!

The CM was very supportive and repeatedly emphasized the importance of the ongoing education and awareness drives needed to sustain the outcome.

Bano Haralu, who was an invitee to the event, was present with our full team (from Pangti, Sungro & Doyang) along with the children from the ecoclubs.

The enclosed picture shows the Chief Minister interacting with the 'Friends of the Amur Falcon' ecoclub members in Doyang.

No killings reported so far this season! Updated on 30th Oct 2013

Great news! The peak migration of Amur Falcons is on, and there have been absolutely no killings reported so far! This remarkable outcome has been the result of a full year of painstaking effort from the Nagaland government (especially the forest department), NGO groups, and most importantly, the local communities who were determined to end the killings.

Amur-Poster-CI

Every morning, tens of thousands of falcons gather along the banks of the Doyang reservoir in a spectacle that is impossible to describe in words! These are probably the largest numbers of migratory raptors in the world (of one species!) and they climax in massive congregations along the reservoir. Before and after this 'bottleneck' the birds have never been seen in these mind-boggling numbers.

Our team at Nagaland Wildlife & Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) has set-up month-long Amur Falcon counts across the Northeast in over a dozen locations.

CI will compile a detailed report shortly.

Nagaland gears up to prevent mass hunting Updated on 20th Oct 2013

Post Conservation India's reporting of this incident, and the subsequent national and international outcry, a lot of on-ground conservation initiatives have been initiated in Nagaland. Principally, the Government of Nagaland, at every level, are fully committed to end the killings and have geared up to face this season.

The Nagaland Wildlife & Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT), a Dimapur-based NGO, is leading a comprehensive programme with the support of the government as well as leading conservation NGOs. They have been in touch with various government officials as well as the community members since October last year on ways to stop the killings in 2013. They recently kicked off their 'Friends of the Amur Falcon' campaign with a conservation education programme covering the important villages in Wokha district. In a message of support, the Chief Minister of Nagaland Mr. Neiphiu Rio stated "The state government is committed to end the unfortunate killings of the migratory Amur Falcons in Nagaland while they are passing through the state. Further, Mr. Rio added, "It is our duty to protect the Amur Falcons and, in true Naga tradition of hospitality, treat them as honoured and esteemed guests".

In addition, other NGOs like Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Natural Nagas have also been been active in drawing up innovative initiatives to help prevent hunting of the falcons this year.

Additional information

The marathon migrant

The Amur Falcon is a complete, long distance, trans-equatorial migrant (Bildstein 2006). It has one of the of longest migration routes of all birds — doing upto 22,000 km in a year — from eastern Asia all the way to Southern Africa and back. It also is unusual in migrating over sea and migrates during the night (Meyburg 2010). Migrating birds leave their Asian breeding range and travel to northeast India and Bangladesh, where they fatten up while staging for overland flights over peninsular India (Ali and Ripley 1984). Subsequently, they undertake the longest regular overwater passage of any raptor, crossing over the Indian Ocean between Western India and tropical East Africa, a journey of more than 4,000 km, which also includes nocturnal flight (Bildstein and Zalles 2005). This species is finely attuned to the strong monsoon tailwinds, which results in its late arrival in eastern Africa in autumn (Ash and Atkins 2009). Migrants arrive in their southern African winter range in November-December and depart by early May (Mendelsohn 1997). This species is an “elliptical migrant” (Kerlinger 1989), and its return route back to its breeding range is largely overland and to the north and west of its southbound route (Bildstein and Zalles op cit.). Useful articles:

  1. The amazing saga of this Amur Falcon.
  2. Amur Falcon migration route finally plotted.
  3. Amur falcon fact file.

Comments

Older Comments
  1. Swapna Sarit  Khuntia

    It is extremely disappointing to see these magnificent birds coming from so far off places meeting such tragic end in the hands of a few greedy men. I think these people themselves also do not realize that, the gravity of the crime they are committing. May be because of their ignorance and more because of the callous attitude of the authorities. And We say “Athithi Devo Bhava” .
    Now this must stop and that to happen there needs to alternative mode of income generation for these class of people which would be more remunerative than hunting these falcons. I highly appreciate the efforts of the authors and team to bring this to light. Probably now this short video can be shown in some leading news channel to make the authorities both at the state and the center to take notice and more importantly act.

  2. Jasminder  Singh

    I am shocked. I had only herd of something like this happens in the tribal areas but to such a extent is just too much. Educating the locals is very impt, the local govt have to step in immediately as they can communicate & are aware of such happenings in their area but I guess for some reason they just don’t wana stop such crimes. I only hope support to this cause grows and action is being taken in the right way. I am dead sure we are just on a tip of a an iceberg…

  3. Rajesh  Sachdev

    I am thankful to CI team for this email and bringing up this matter to the national level. I would like to suggest everyone to please write to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and bring it to their notice that this must be immedietly stopped. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate the WCCB nodal officer contact details in my contact list. But, if someone having that, please share it so that we can also build pressure on them for quick action. In my opinion it is must to urgently gain the confidence of local communities and the local FD and administration is the best to do this.

  4. Rajesh  Sachdev

    I emailed Rina Mitra (the Addl directorate of WCCB) and brought this to her notice.

  5. This is not only shocking but sad and for country like india where guest is treated as god, now you know why there is no space for animals and birds in india. people in this country behave like animals. What is our minister doing is it not proof to catch offenders. low income or high is no way an escuse to break law. Only one remeade enforce law with iron hands.

  6. Angad  Achappa

    This is extremely sad news!! :( The last i had heard of something like this was the capturing of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters from Karnataka. Now that your team(Im glad people like you all roam this earth) has these records, the government will take serious steps in ensuring this does not happen again.

  7. S.  Subramanya

    Here is a related posting on bngbirds@yahoogroups:

    To: bngbirds@yahoogroups.com
    From: S. Subramanya subbus@vsnl.com
    Date: Sat Feb 6, 2010 8:29 pm
    Subject: Plight of the Amur’s flights… [long]

    The Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)
    http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/falconidae/images/220_male_Amur_Falcon_327w.jpg
    http://www.indianaturewatch.net/displayimage.php?id=67991
    http://www.indianaturewatch.net/displayimage.php?id=69451
    http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=1&action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1064
    http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1064
    http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=10&action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1064
    http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=30&action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1064
    http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=31&action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1064

    The Amur Falcon is a smallish dark sooty brown raptor with chestnut on the vent which sets it apart from the European Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), to which it is closely related and can easily be confused with. These Amur Falcons breed from eastern Siberia eastward through Amurland to Ussuriland and south through northern Mongolia and Manchuria to North Korea, northeastern China, and southern Japan. Using north-eastern India as their main flyway, these falcons winter in northern Botswana and Malawi , and south through South Africa.
    (http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/images/sabap/sabap2_map_smoothed119_mid.png). The bulk of these birds are known to have several staging areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur, where they congregate in huge numbers before they fly across the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean towards
    South Africa.

    I have been interested in the Amur Falcon ever since 2008, when I was invited for an Amur Falcon conservation initiative in Nagaland, where 1000s of these magnificent falcons were being slaughtered for the pot each winter, but never made it. My March 2008 visit to Nameri Wildlife Sanctuary through which small flocks of these falcons are known to fly past, was five months too late to, even set my eyes on them. My recent meeting with Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury, a leading authority on the birds of the northeast and a close friend, helped to put pieces in place on the plight of the large flights of Amur Falcons.

    The Habang area found within the remote district of Karbi Anglong, of Assam, and located close to the border of Nagaland’s Khasi and Jantia Hills, comprise a few small hamlets inhabited by Khasis, Nepalese and a few Karbis. Every winter, Amur Falcons are known to congregate in huge numbers and as many as 3000 birds have been sighted on a single night when they come to roost in the Habang area. It is not just Habang, two more areas, one each in Nagaland (Mokokchung district) and Manipur (Tamenglong district) play host to huge flocks of these birds as well.

    Every October and November, the villagers, both Khasis and Nepalese in Habang, eagerly wait for the arrival of Amurs to roost in their areas. Typically, these Amurs prefer to roost on vast bamboo thickets and perch on the emergent bamboo stems. The habangs build rough platforms – makeshift machans, close to the canopy of the bamboo clumps, by pulling together several bamboo stems and tying them with a rope. The whole village is known to engage themselves in this age-old ritual. Sitting on these machans, the habangs catch the Amurs with bare hands as they come to settle on the bamboos during dusk and sometimes through the night to grab the roosting birds and stuff them into gunnysacks. Each one would then descend down from the machans with bag full of Amurs. While most of the night’s capture is eaten, many of them are sold in urban areas such as Shillong.

    For over a month starting from mid October, an estimated 90,000 birds are known to pass through Habang area and many of them get slaughtered, never to fly any further on their long journey to South Africa. During the season, these falcons can be seen perched on powerlines like the swallows do, or in flight all over Umpanai, between Umpanai and Amsoi and also in other adjacent areas. From Habang, the Amurs are known to fly through Meghalaya – near to the border of Khasi and Janthia Hills – and towards the Sylhet plains of Bangaladesh. Many of the Amurs are also known to take a different route – through the Mokokchung and Wokha districts of Nagaland and Tamenglong district of Manipur and then to Bangaladesh through the Cachar plains of southern Assam.

    The hunting Habangs, hardly know that the Amurs are migrants from a far-off region and remain in their area as guests on a daily basis, before those that escape slaughter, continue on their long journey towards South Africa. To the Habangs, arrival of the Amurs has always been a god’s seasonal
    offering of meat in plenty. So much so that, some of the remains of the overkill are quite often thrown away to rot on garbage piles.

    This very thought is enough to mute you into silence and freeze your blood, and just to think that those images of the Amurs posted above were taken in relatively more happier times for the birds. This plight of the Amur flights in nothing less dramatic than the river crossing of the migrating Wildebeest across Masai Mara, where the Nile Crocodiles lie in wait for an opportunity of plenty.

    Source of info: Anwaruddin Choudhury.
    For a detailed treatment of this subject, please see:
    Choudhury, A. 2009. A Naturalist in Karbi Anglong. Gibbon Books, Guwahati, Assam, India.

    Cheers,

    Subbu

  8. Nagaland , Shame on you.

    Jai.

  9. So sad, was shocked to see the staggering numbers of Amur falcons being killed everyday :( . Nagaland Government has to take immediate action against this massacre and provide a safe passage for these magnificent raptors.

  10. Divyrajsinh  Jadeja

    Hard to decide who is Hunter that amur falcons or we the PEOPLE…:(…:’(
    I think only punishment to those people can stop all this thing.
    immediate action should be taken on them.
    and
    someone should contact conservator who is on duty there.

  11. Ullas  Karanth

    Thanks for the detailed coverage and follow up actions reported. CM Inglis in his 1911 Book, Birds of Southern India, records similar mass capture and sale of these birds in Andhra Pradesh. He called them Eastern Red-legged falcons, and mentions that because of their red-legs they were sold as ‘pigeons’.. Do these birds still migrate through Andhra or have they been extirpated there in the century since Englis reported similar slaughter?

    Your report is also an effective expose’ of not just this particular case if market friendly wildlife slaughter, but also of the great risk involved in relying on the much-hyped’traditional tolerance and reverence for nature’ as the sole conservation strategy..

  12. I was in Nagaland for several years during the 1990s and I remember the markets in Mon district being flooded with live Amur falcons during the ‘season’. Though I inquired about the source of these birds or where they had been trapped, I never got a convincing reply. The sellers would keep them in woven bamboo cages, in twos or threes and even senior Govt. officials would buy them. Those days I was not aware of Amur falcons or its migratory stories, but it was disgusting to see people playing with the caged & helpless birds, as they aggressively defended themselves when being poked with sticks or fingers by perverted scoundrels. Besides the sheer number of birds being sold in the markets of Mon itself was intimidating, even to someone used to seeing all sorts of wildlife being dismembered, displayed or sold openly on the streets.

    • Ramki  Sreenivasan

      Raj Phukan — Thanks! Please ping me with more information of Amur hunting / trade in Mon. The DFO Mon says that there isn’t hunting anymore in Mon but that was said of Wokha also (where this massacre has been reported from)! By next year, we need to ensure that all hunting locations are identified and patrolled.

  13. This is an appalling story and an embarrassment for India. The designer-rip-off uniform worn by the faceless bird-trapper also gives the lie to the notion that tribals must always be seen as a people apart.

  14. Deeply saddening. I was shocked to see the video itself, what could’ve gone through you all while seeing happening in front of you would’ve been so painful. I hope with your expose the government will put a stop to this. This is a mass massacre and like you have mentioned the killing is more than the capacity of those towns…it is commercial and not a sustainable tribal hunting!

  15. Viviana  Gonzalez Astudillo

    Is it possible to start a campaign to gather signatures online for this? The “bulk” of the public can be powerful…

  16. I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I SAW HOW UPSETTING THIS IS I HAD TO STOP WATCHING THIS VIDEO.
    IT MADE ME ANGRY AND SO UPSET HOW CAN THIS COUNTRY HOLD ITS HEAD UP HIGH.
    I WANTED TO GRAB THOSE PEOPLE AND HURT THEM SOOOOO MUCH BACAUSE OF THE WAY THEY WERE CATCHING AND SELLING THOSE FALCONS FOR FOOD.
    I HAVE BEEN AT A BIRD OF PREY ACADEMY FOR JUST OVER A MONTH AND LOVE EVEY MINUTE OF IT.
    I HOPE THESE PEOPLE GET PUNISHED FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE ITS WRONG ITS INHUMAIN AND NO ANIMAL SHOULD BE PUT THROUGH THIS.
    I HOPE THE GOVERMENT ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ASAP BEFORE MORE FALCONS ARE KILLED.
    ALL THEY ARE DOING IS MIGRATING AND STOPPING OFF FOR A REST THERE NOT HURTING ANYONE SO LEAVE THESES BEAUTIFUL FALCONS ALONE.

  17. panditaradhya  maisuru

    It is shocking to know migrating birds are killed systematically in India. I request the concerned authorities in the government of India and the government of Nagaland to take stringent measures to stop the killings of these birds, and also request to punish the culprits. For us in Karnataka migration of birds is an occasion to celebrate, as if the daughter of the house is visiting. I hope good sense prevails in Nagaland.

  18. I live close by where this is happening. My native place is just 2 hrs drive fron there. Saw a couple of flocks in their hundreds..possibly thousands 2 weeks back. Nagas are deep rooted in hunting practices. But lately, many of our people have begun indiscriminate destruction of wildlife with modern techniques, arms etc. As made to belief that tribals practices sustainable hunting, this is not,nor this is a matter of survival for hunters/trappers. For many Nagas, hunting is a favourite pastime. Therefore, writing to authorities would’nt be of much help. In fact, even some highly placed govt. officials are enthusiastic hunters themselves. This practice has been there a longtime and authorities are reluctant to act tough against practices despite stringent laws being enforced by the govt. OK! govt. is not sincere & helpless in tackling this issue? what can we do? My humble suggestions:
    1. highlight your concern as much as possible in print media (not electronics) as this would be the only way to reach these people(Nagaland Post & Morung Express are 2 widely circulated newspapers here).
    2. where govt. failed Village coucils have suceeded. where village coucils dictates govt. relents. Involving village coucil is a must. In fact, couple of sorrounding villages and ranges have successfully implemented hunting prohibiton.
    whatever, let us protect this majestic global companion.

  19. Sorry but my english is not as goos as I like. Good work to report it. It’s a shame. The solution is, to take punitive measures that are proposed, but in turn, generate more benefits to the people, for alternative ways to the sale of these animals in the markets. It seems that not sure what the fate of most of them, and you say that the local population is unable to absorb such a large number of individuals. (Would not surprise me that traditional Chinese medicine, grant something magical to this hawks). Surely many people would pay to witness the migration of Amur Falcons in this venue. Would have to generate some kind of income that would generate ecotourism infrastructure in local populations. I hope this horrible hunting finish. Thank you.

  20. I think so it will be good, to do a campaign to gather signatures online for this.

  21. I wrote a letter to India-Tourism-Office here in Germany:

    “Dear sirs,

    we are tour-operator in Germany working in sustainable tourism. We are rather well-known in Germany, because we have won 9 times the “Goldene Palme” Award from GEO Saison, the biggest German traveller magazine.

    We are operating several trips to your beautiful country. One of this trip is a birdwatchingtour to India, which is very succesful.

    Now, we got informations from several birdwatchers, that in Nagaland they don´t really care about rare birds. 120.000 – 140.000 of the rare Amur-Falcon are slaughtered every year.
    We want to ask you to do something against this bird-slaughter. It makes a very bad picture of Nagaland and India if you kill such beautiful and endangered birds. Here in Germany we have 400.000 of birdwatchers who will be informed about this massacre, soon. In UK there are much more than 1 Mio birdwatchers. Beleive me, this is a very negative picture of India. We have the first cancellations for our birdingtrip, because nobody wants to watch birds in a country with massacres like that.

    Here you can find more informations:
    http://novataxa.blogspot.de/2012/11/amur-falcon-massacre-nagaland.html

    http://www.conservationindia.org/campaigns/amur-massacre


    With kind regards

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    Handelsregister Freiburg, HRB 310868
    managing director: Rainer Stoll”

  22. I just started a on line petition for Amur Falcons on change.org

    Here is the link to the petition

    https://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/jayanthi-natarajan-minister-for-environment-and-forests-govt-of-india-stop-the-shocking-amur-falcon-massacre-in-nagaland-india-3

    Please pass on the link and get people to sign the petition.

    I also needed the email address of the Ministry of environment and forests. to update it in my petition. It would be great if someone could provide this.

  23. charles  francey

    un scandale comment un pays peut il laisser faire de si horribles choses que dirons les enfants ces prochaines années lorsque l’espèce sera exterminée . PAUVRE PLANETE

  24. Pranjal Jyoti  Saikia

    Thank you for finding the facts and sharing with the world….Now let’s see how the Government plays its role..Don’t know whether the falcon population can take this massive blow with 120,000 -140,000 individuals slaughtered in such short time.Don’t really know how many more of them are surviving now.If this slaughter continues in the coming years also, the amur falcon may eventually come to the brink of extinction. Could not see the video, my eyes started watering. This may well be the worst crime ever committed on the avifaunua. Have never heard of crime in such a magnitude. Also India’s reputation has taken a serious beating. Thanks to these locals. It’s such a shame..

  25. Parashuram  Lad

    In Nagaland it very difficult to implemant the conservation laws. The local people have their own traditions and they do not care for central laws. Officials find it difficult even to enter the area.

    It necessary to study the situation at field level and explore how to proceed under prevailing law and order conditions. As far as I know the officers are well aware of the situation but prefer to keep quiet.

    My intention is not to discourage any effort in this direction but be careful and proceed cautiously.

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