Manipur : Satellite Tagged Migratory Amur falcon hunted down

Imphal(Manipur) Nov 11 :Forest and Environment Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar informed that one Amur Falcon which was satellite-tagged and named ‘Manipur’ at a function held in Tamenglong district recently, has been killed by some unknown miscreants at Kebuching bordering Tamenglong and Noney districts.

He conveyed that the satellite tagged migratory bird was found by the locals and was handed over to Tamenglong MLA and later given to the officials concerned.

Shyamkumar said that the State Government has directed the respective DCs of Tamenglong and Noney to do the needful.

Saddened by the incident, the Minister said that cancellation of air gun licences will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting soon and assured to intensify awareness campaigns concerning the bird at the earliest.

It can be recalled that, on November 4, a team of officials, led by Dr Suresh Kumar of Wildlife Institute of India, Forest Department Tamenglong including DFO Arun RS and Peter, Raptor Biologists from Hungary, captured five Amur Falcons using canopy mist-nets at a community forest area of Chiuluan village along the Barak river in Tamenglong district.

After proper assessment of the body and feather condition of the birds, two fittest birds were selected and attached with GPS satellite tags and released the next morning to conduct migratory route study.

The male Amur falcon was named ‘Manipur’ while the female was named as ‘Tamenglong’.

The satellite tagging of the two Amur Falcons were informed to the villagers of Tamenglong on the day of the ‘4th Amur Falcon Festival’ held at the district.

Tamenglong district administration, on November 8, had also issued an order strictly prohibiting use of air guns along Irang river, near Gwangram, Puching, Rangkhung and Taobam villages.

Addressing the media persons at his new Secretariat office today, Minister Th Shyamkumar termed the incident as very unfortunate and devastating as the Forest Department, along with the team of experts, are on a mission to save and monitor the movements of the migratory bird.

Stating that stricter rules and intensive awareness campaigns are needed at such moment, the Minister informed that the culprits involved in the incident will not be spared.

Shyamkumar said that the people should be proud that Manipur is included in the world migratory bird map.

He said that the Forest Department officials, along with the local people, have been continuously raising awareness about the bird.

Seeking active participation from the media as well in making the campaign successful, he said that this time, the Forest Department organised a campaign along with the Rainforest Club and also organised door to door campaign involving local leaders at 20 villages in Tamenglong district, where a large number of Amur Falcons usually migrate around this time, every year, to roost.

Shyamkumar also appealed to the people and other departments to come forward and extend their support in saving the migratory bird as well as other wildlife.

Meanwhile, addressing the media persons, Aran RS, DFO, Tamenglong, said that the analysis of the tracking data, after the immediate release of ‘Manipur’ (the male Amur Falcon), showed that it moved to a site 3 kms southeast of Punglam village along the Irang river where it roosted.

The next two days, ‘Manipur’ flew in and around the Irang river between Punglam – Kabui Khullen – Nagaching – Bhalok and returned to roost along the Irang river, he added.

He further informed that ‘Tamenglong’, the female Amur Falcon moved towards the Barak river roost site and remained in the area for the next two days and on November 7, it arrived at Irang river site where ‘Manipur’ was also roosting.

He said ‘Tamenglong’ also foraged in the area between Punglam – Kabui Khullen – Nagaching and returned every day to roost at Irang river site.

After receiving the unfortunate news he said that more teams of Forest Department rushed to Irang river area, as the surviving female bird ‘Tamenglong’ was tracked in the nearby location, to raise more awareness among the villagers.

He said that Forest Department, district administration, police department, other departments and local leaders are collaborating to monitor and protect Amur Falcons at all the roosting sites.

Dr Suresh Kumar, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun said that each satellite equipment costs Rs 1.5 lakh and it also costs an additional Rs 1 lakh to retrieve the journey data of the bird.

He added that the satellite tag used in ‘Manipur’ will be brought to Imphal later.

With inputs from DIPR & The Sanghai Express.

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