Flocks of endangered Amur Falcons (Falco Amurensis) or Khalang in Tangkhul language, were spotted in Finch Corner and Ramva village on Tuesday. Amur Falcon is a fascinating migratory raptor. This is the first reported sighting of the endangered bird in Ukhrul district as previously it was only known to be visiting Tamenglong district in Manipur, besides Nagaland.
In Nagaland, it has been reported that Amur Falcon has returned to Yaongyimchen community Biodiversity area in Longleng district of Nagaland, with the earlier batch arriving during October. Thanks to the Lemsachenlok Society Yaongyimchen who took a pledge to continue to support and safeguard the migratory bird while the birds are in Yaongyimchen village for 4-5 weeks and escort safely as the bird fly back to the South African region.
It was reported on Tuesday that local villagers were hunting the migratory Amur Falcon birds with pellet gun and catapult in Finch Corner and Ramva area. It is documented that thousands of these migratory raptors are trapped or killed in during their stayover in north-east.
According to World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) every year, the small, resilient birds make the daring voyage from breeding grounds in Russia and China to winter in southern Africa. It is supposed that the falcons cross the Arabian Sea during their migration, but much is still unknown about the patterns of their estimated 22,000 km migration.
WMBD reports that an estimated 120,000 to 140,000 birds in 2012 were trapped in nets and killed while passing through a remote part of the Indian Nagaland region. This prompted a swift response from the Indian Government and the Nagaland Forest Department, which used patrols and education initiatives for villagers as a means to halt trapping. In 2013, no falcons were trapped.
It may be noted that the government of Manipur on April 30, 2020 issued a public order, to communities of valley and hills on voilation of wildlife crimes in hunting and killing of wild animals in Manipur. The order pointed out cases of wild animals carcasses posted on social media without much heed to Wildlife Protection Act and the seriousness of the offence.
Section 9 (Chapter-III) of the wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 prohibits hunting and killing of wild animals including birds.
The state directive authorises any Police not below the rank of Sub-inspector to prevent and investigate with rights to search, arrest, detain suspects and accused under the Act.
Violators can be imprisoned for a term of 3 years or fine upto 25000/- or both.
While it is good news that the rare and endangered birds have come to Ukhrul district before
moving onwards in their long migratory journey, the reported hunting and killing of these birds
means that the birds have not found a safe welcoming in the district.