A female Amur falcon named ‘Tamenglong’ after the place in Manipur by forest officials and set free by them with a GPS-fitted transmitter on November 5 reached Somalia at 1 pm on Saturday after flying a distance of 5,700 km.
Forest Minister T. Shyamkumar said here on Sunday that its male companion named ‘Manipur’ could not make it since some tribal hunters shot it down soon after it was released on the same day.
The Minister assured bird lovers that steps will be taken to ban air guns used in killing indigenous and migratory birds in the district.
Every year Amur falcons take a long journey covering many countries including China, Mongolia, Russia and India to reach Somalia.
A few thousands halt in Tamenglong district of Manipur and some parts of Nagaland where they feed on termites and other insects for about three weeks.
Dr. Suresh Kumar, a senior scientist of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun said, “Another Amur falcon named ‘Longleng’ which was fitted with a transmitter is doing well.”
In the recent past hunters caught Amur falcons in hundreds everyday in Tamenglong district. Live and barbecued falcons were on open sale in many parts. However, elders of the district have opposed wanton killings of these migratory birds, which help farmers by feeding on termites and other insects which destroy the verdant crops.
Forest officials said there have been several awareness campaigns in the district not to kill the migratory falcons. Bird lovers say that there is an urgent need to spread the intensified campaigns since there are now reports of rampant bird catchings.
Meanwhile forest officials have been patrolling the Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in eastern India. Officials warned poachers of fine and imprisonment if they are caught hunting the falcons. However, reports say that several migratory birds are caught on a daily basis. Bird lovers point out that poaching is the main reason behind the sharp decline in migratory birds visiting this lake.
Wildlife wing officials posted in the lake say that they are not issued firearms in view of the burgeoning insurgency. Besides, there is no high speed boat to chase the poachers who mingle with fishermen to penetrate deep inside the lake. Officials say that some of these poachers also kill endangered brow antlered deer, with a population of less than 250 in its natural habitat, the 40 sq. km Keibul Lamjao national park located inside the Loktak lake.