Satellite-tagged Amur Falcons put Manipur on global map: Forest Min

Satellite-tagged Amur Falcons put Manipur on global map: Forest Min
Manipur forest minister Awangbou Newmai addressing a press conference in Imphal on Tuesday.
Correspondent IMPHAL, Nov 3 | Publish Date: 11/3/2020 12:47:39 PM IST

Amur Falcons have drawn the global attention of wildlife conservation efforts of Manipur government, claimed state forest and environment minister Awangbow Newmai on Tuesday.

He said that the successful return of the two satellite-tagged Amur Falcons – Irang and Chiuluan - have put Manipur in the global map of wildlife conservation efforts. 

“It is a proud moment for the Manipur and state forest department that the Amur Falcons have returned after completing their marathon journey to their roosting site in Puching village in Tamenglong district, the village where it was tagged with satellite transmitters and released last year,” he said. Addressing media persons at his new secretariat office Imphal, Newmai said that the success story of the satellite tagging of the Amur Falcons has ignited hope that the other wildlife projects like hornbill project, tiger project among others can also be successful projects. He assured that more conservation efforts will be carried out for the migratory birds and other endangered animals in the state.

Seeking support from the public, he said without the cooperation from all stakeholders, the conservation efforts of the department will not be successful. Giving credit to the general public, stakeholders and media, he said that the number of migratory birds visiting the Loktak Lake has increased this year following awareness among the general public. He revealed  that after completion of 361 days, the amur falcon Chiuluan reached Puching village on October 26 from where it was satellite tagged and released last year while Irang arrived on October 27. 

It is worth mentioning here that the two Amur Falcons named Puching and Irang were satellite tagged by experts of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) along with the officials of the Tamenglong forest division on October 31, 2019. 

Three more birds namely Barak, Phalong and Chiuluan were satellite tagged and released on November 1, 2019. The forest minister said the two satellite tagged Amur Falcons were traced for five days before they disappeared. 

He said the satellite tagged Barak was successfully traced till May 29, 2020 before it disappeared likely in a cyclone on its migratory route. Stating that Manipur has set a successful example in the global conservation map, he said the state has shown the effort to protect and provide safe bases to the migratory bird Amur Falcons. 

He credited the NGOs including Rainforest Club Tamenglong, local people, district administration and media for their involvement in raising awareness on the protection and conservation of the Amur Falcons which migrate in lakhs during mid October in Tamenglong district of the state. 

He said the birds, known locally as ‘Akhoipuina’ or ‘Ahoipuina’ in Rongmei dialect roost in the villages of Tamenglong along the Barak river and its tributaries.  The birds then migrate to South Africa for which they fly non-stop over the Arabian Sea for five days, he added. 

Dr AK Joshi, PCCF, wildlife said that the state forest department started the work on conservation of the Amur Falcons in Manipur in 2015, whereas the conservation work started in Nagaland in 2012 after an uproar following hunting of large numbers of the birds.  He said that the Amur Falcons started their journey from their breeding ground in North China/Siberia/Northern Mongolia region after that they crossed over to Myanmar and arrived in North East India for resting and roosting before they made a long flight to Southern Africa. 

He reminded that Amur Falcon is protected under both the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is included in the Schedule IV of the Act and India is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), it is mandatory to provide them safe passage and ensure their protection and conservation during their migration. 

He said the satellite tagging of the birds started in 2018 in Manipur where it started in Nagaland in 2013. He said he was satisfied with the conservation effort of the Amur Falcons and appealed to the general public to support the department for the protection, preservation and conservation of the migratory bird.

Amur Falcons weighing on average 170 grams are long-distance migratory birds and arrive 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 km 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 in the South African continent.

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