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In Nagaland, Amur Falcon Hunters Turn Sworn Protectors

Published: 13th October 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th October 2014 11:59 PM   |  A+A-

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GUWAHATI: Over the last decade, Zandango and Openthung trapped and sold thousands of migratory Amur Falcons when the birds came to roost in Nagaland.

But now, intrestingly the two, along with 250 other previous hunters, protect the falcons and regularly visit their roosting sites to ensure that they are safe.

During their 22,000-km flight from Siberia to South Africa, the Amur Falcons halt at Nagaland to roost. They would spend about two months before leaving for the onward journey.

There is no gainsaying that the Nagas love meat the most. So until a couple of years back, tens of thousands of the birds were trapped and killed for their meat at Pangti area of Nagaland’s Wokha district.

But the killings have now become a thing of the past, thanks to conservation initiatives of the Nagaland government, village authorities, NGOs and the Wildlife Trust of India. In 2012, in the wake of a mass hunt that threatened the bird species, village authorities had jointly taken up a resolution banning the killing of the birds in their jurisdictions. And it did magic. The village councils in Nagaland are governed by customary laws and as such, their judgements and rulings are always final and binding.

“It feels good to see that the birds are no longer killed. We all organized a series of awareness programmes in the villages where the birds come to roost. The people have realized that what they were doing all these years was wrong,” Bano Haralu, managing trustee of Nagaland Wildlife and Bio-Diversity Conversation Trust, told Express.

“The state government’s threat that villages where the birds were killed would be deprived of NREGS funds has also paid off,” she added. “We have sensitized the people. So, we don’t think they will repeat their mistakes,” said a senior Nagaland government official.

But Zandango said it could not be said with conviction that the birds would not be killed again in Nagaland.

“We know Amur Falcons are an international bird species and we shouldn’t kill them. For 14 years, a large number of the hunters were solely dependent on the birds. What will happen to them now? So, there is a chance that they may continue hunting,” he said.

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