Pangti: Thousands of migratory Amur Falcons have arrived for roosting at Pangti village in Nagaland where an awareness drive to save these winter visitors from being hunted has yielded positive results.
The falcons (Falco amurensis) travelling from Siberia are expected to roost in this village of Wokha district for over a month before proceeding to Africa, Wildlife Trust of India said today.
"The Amur Falcons have arrived and were sighted from October 1. Initially, around 50-60 birds were sighted but the numbers have gone up to a couple of thousands now. More are expected to arrive. No hunting or trapping has been reported indicating that our efforts are making an impact," Steve Oduyo of `Natural Nagas`, a wildlife conservation organisation, said.
Other rare water birds have also been seen sighted around Doyang reservoir, Oduyo said.
WTI`s Yuri Pator, who is in Pangti to oversee the activities, said, "After talking to the villagers and council members, I feel positive that this year the falcons will be safe and there is sufficient awareness in and around these three villages to ensure that the falcons continue their journey to Africa", he added.
Unlike earlier seasons when the Amur Falcons were hunted in large numbers, this year saw local protection groups enforcing resolutions by village councils to save these birds.
Following reports about the falcons being hunted in large numbers last year, a Rapid Action Project (RAP) was undertaken by the Natural Nagas and WTI to assist the state Forest Department in their endeavour to protect them.
The RAP, supported by Charities Aid Foundation, ensured that the village councils of Ashaa, Pangti and Sungro in Wokha district passed a resolution to ban hunting of these migratory falcons.
An Amur Falcon Protection Squad (AFPS) was also set up by the RAP.
Over the past month, the Forest Department assisted by Natural Nagas and WTI conducted various activities in the three villages to spread awareness about the need to save the falcons.
Following a memorandum of understanding that was signed to ban killing of falcons, the organisations held several meetings with council members and villagers, put up posters, in addition to direct protection by the Forest Department and the AFPS, the sources said.
Meanwhile, children of 40 schools in the district are taking part for the first time in the IFAW Animal Action Education programme, the world`s largest animal focused education activity, with the theme `Elephants, Never Forget`.
The AAE programme will make students aware of the problems facing elephants and conservation and welfare initiatives being undertaken around the world to save the elephants.
"Amur falcons were our priority under the RAP, but we are looking at overall wildlife awareness," said Radhika Bhagat, Head, Wild Aid division of WTI that coordinates the RAPs.
"We have also been supporting elephant conservation initiatives in the region, considering that human-elephant conflicts are seen here too as in other parts of India," Bhagat said.