Imphal: Manipur is all set to welcome the migratory bird Amur Falcon amid the ongoing unrest. Thousands of Amur Falcon birds arrive in Manipur annually in mid-October from far away and make it their home for over one and a half months.
In a first in the State, the Manipur forest department would carry out a head count of Amur falcons in the Zeliangrong-Naga-dominated Tamenglong district, where most birds roost during the season. The exercise is part of its upcoming programmes to safeguard and protect Amur falcons. The state government has already issued an anti-poaching notice for the migratory birds.
Notably, the first batch of the small-sized raptors numbering around 20 /30 have landed in Tamenglong as locals on October 13 witnessed them hovering in skies overhead in a jungle close to the district headquarters. Locally known as Akhuaipuina, wildlife experts said that long-distance migratory birds usually land in Manipur, mostly in Tamenglong and neighbouring Nagaland, in mid-October from their breeding grounds in Northern China and South Eastern Siberia.
After roosting for a little more than a month, the falcons depart the State and fly towards the Southern and Eastern parts of Africa and flock for a short time before flying towards their breeding grounds, they added. “We have engaged a prominent NGO from the State for conducting Amur falcon census on the spots (roosting sites). They will carry out the headcount when the birds completely arrive in Tamenglong,” the divisional forest officer of the Zeliangrong Naga-dominated district, the forest department said on October 13.
Generally, the number of birds flocked in the district varied from one roosting site to another; at some points, over 5,000 falcons roosted while more than 50,000 were seen flocking at other roosting sites, a forest official added. “Once the census is conducted, we would maintain data on their (falcons) arrival, their stay and the total number of birds arriving in the State. The district’s forest unit and Rainforest Club Tamenglong (RCT) are set to jointly hold a series of programmes to spread awareness among the villages, mostly the youths, to protect and show their love to the winged guests during their stint.
Barely a week after the district magistrate (Tamenglong) L Angshim Dangshawa released an order, banning hunting, catching, killing and selling of the birds and using air guns during the raptors’ roosting period. The Noney magistrate Joseph Pauline Kamson, issued a similar order on October 13. RCT secretary Ramhiamang Gonmei said that most birds usually flock in large numbers in the forest along the Barak and Irang rivers. As done earlier, the “Amur falcon dance festival” will also be held by the forest authorities in collaboration with RCT next month to attract local tourists and to spread awareness amongst the people to welcome and conserve foreign guests.