Killing of Amur falcons in Manipur hills evoke reactions from concerned citizens
Amur falcon, the world’s longest travelling raptors, take a month-long stop-over in Manipur’s Tamenglong before a non-stop flight to Africa, where they spend their winters
Report of killing Amur falcon, the world’s longest travelling raptors, at one of the roosting sites in Manipur’s Tamenglong district a few days after the arrival of these winged guests in the hill district as part of their annual routine migration,evoked sharp reaction from concerned citizens.
“We have been hearing reports of killings and sale of Amur falcons’ meat. We have reported to the DFO (divisional forest officer), conservator of Tamenglong forest division and other officials, but we have not heard of any actions being taken,” claimed a letter addressed to the principal chief conservator of forest and head of Forest Force of the Manipur forest department.
The letter, which was written by two honorary wildlife wardens of Tamenglong district last month end, said that Amur falcon (Falcon amurensis) also known as Akhoipuina in local tongue, started arriving in Tamenglong in large numbers this year on October 8, because of the “successful conservation efforts undertaken so far.”
The report of sighing Amur falcon in Tamenglong town,150 km west of Imphal, was first conveyed to this reporter by a resident on October 13 this year. Later, locals shared the information of arriving the birds in big numbers at Chiuluan Barak roosting area in the district on October 20.
These pigeon sized birds have been given a safe passage during their month-long stop-over in Tamenglong before a non-stop flight to Africa, where they spend their winters, because of the massive awareness campaigns by the forest department in association with the stakeholders concerned, in the past few years.
The Amur falcon festival, which was started in 2015, is said to be an effective tool to spread awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.There has been a serious lack of such efforts from the department concerned this year,the letter claimed.
On October 30, forest range officer Joel Gangmei of Tamenglong forest division led a combined team of forest and police officials and arrested four persons on charge of hunting Amur falcons and seized three air guns and 27 dead birds carried in gunny bags on the way to Barak river from Chiuluan village.
“A wildlife offence case has been registered under Section 9 and 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and all the four accused have been arrested, the air guns and the dead birds were also seized,” said a press release issued by Tamenglong forest division. “The offence is punishable under the said sections with imprisonment upto 3 years or a fine upto ₹25,000 or with bonds.The accused have confessed of the offence and pleaded guilty.”
After the incident,the forest department has taken up 24X7 vigilance by a joint team of forest and police personnel to prevent hunting, a senior forest official said.
The visit of these birds(Amur falcon) in Manipur’s Tamenglong and parts of Senapati should be welcomed by one and all instead of giving ill-treatment to them as they controlled the termites and insects in the agricultural fields when the crops were maturing for harvest, environment loving citizens felt.