Satellite tagging of Amur Falcons in Nagaland - The New Indian Express

Satellite tagging of Amur Falcons in Nagaland

Published: 10th November 2013 12:40 PM

Last Updated: 10th November 2013 02:00 PM

Migratory Amur Falcons in Nagaland have been fitted with satellite tags to monitor their movement for their conservation.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and other environment agencies along with the Nagaland Forest Department have taken up the joint scientific mission to satellite tag the raptors, Nagaland Principal Chief Conservator of Forests M Lokeswara Rao told PTI.

Along with the other environment partners, United Nations Environment Programme/Convention on Migratory Species Office - Abu Dhabi, the mission in Nagaland's Doyang area of Wokha aims to provide new insights into the ecology of the Amur Falcon, particularly during its short stay in Nagaland and subsequent traverse across India.

It should also provide the Nagaland people with knowledge about the origins of their annual falcon visitors which spend about one month at Doyang every autumn and feast on insects to gain fitness for their immense onward journey to Africa, Rao said.

On November 6, he said three Amur Falcon birds named as Naga, Wokha and Pangti were satellite tagged and released.

The three birds were fitted with satellite tag with antenna and solar panel weighing 5 gram on their back.

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.

Apart from these three, another 28 birds were tagged with rings and released.

The satellite tagged birds' migration will be monitored through satellite with a website in Hungary recording every detail about their movement, the PCCF said.

During the whole operation the Pangti villagers helped the team from trapping the birds to their release, Rao said.

"It is remarkable to see the people who were once hunting the birds have now turned into conservationists. This is one of the big examples how community involvement will help in conservation", the forest official said.

"This is the first time in India that the Amur Falcons wear satellite tags and have been released from Nagaland, which has now entered the international map on conservation movement", he said.

Earlier this week, an international team of ornithologists counted over one million Amur Falcons entering a night roost near Wokha.

Nick Williams, Head of the Coordinating Unit of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) said, "This is by far the largest and most spectacular roost of any species of falcon ever seen anywhere in the world".

"It represents a unique and irreplaceable part of the rich biodiversity of Nagaland. Nagaland is the Falcon Capital of India", Williams claimed.

MME/BirdLife Hungary scientist with experiences of satellite tracking of Falcons, Dr Szabolcs Soil said, "We are interested to see Falcon species migrate to Africa. I see a huge potential for conservation work of Amur Falcon in Nagaland. I am inspired by the conservation work that has been already initiated by the Forest Department and the cooperation by the local people and NGOs".

Appreciating the different techniques developed for conservation of the birds of prey, another MME/BirdLife leading scientist Peter Fehervani said, "I think the Nagaland Amur Falcons are just as important Natural Heritage of India like the Tiger and one horned Rhino."

Nagaland's wideranging efforts - legislation, intensive patrolling, awareness-raising campaign supported by NGOs and the community - has been spectacular with falcon hunting being completely halted this season, the PCCF added.

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