Kolkata: With the hunters of migratory Amur Falcon birds turning into protectors, Nagaland has become the "Falcon capital" of the world, officials said on Tuesday.
"Against the general perception of Naga people being compulsive hunters, the success of Amur Falcon conservation has put Nagaland on the global map; and the sheer number of the Amur Falcon population here has made it the 'Falcon Capital' of the world," Nagaland's divisional forest officer (Doyang) Zuthunglo Patton said in a statement.
While migrating to African sub-continent every winter to escape the extreme cold of Siberia, thousands of Amur Falcon birds roost in Nagaland for over a month.
Till two years ago, the raptors were slaughtered in large numbers by locals and eaten as food.
The forest official said focused and relentless awareness in the last one year had brought about the success.
"The communities of Pangti and adjoining villages in Wokha District have turned the spectacular migration of these magnificent birds into a lifetime opportunity for tourists whose jaws drop in utter amazement over the unforgettable sight," Patton said.
Last week, the first batch of Amur falcons arrived in the Doyang Reservoir, after which the villagers of Ashaa, Pangti and Sungro once again reaffirmed their last year's commitment and dedication to protect the falcons with the support of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the Nagaland forest department.
WTI's CEO Dr Jagdish Kishwan said they had formed protection squads of around 30 former hunters who patrol the area to make sure that all visiting falcons were safe.
This year with the return of the birds to Nagaland a
'Welcome Programme' was organised by the Forest department on October 1 at Pangti village.
Two watch towers have also been constructed in the area to witness the phenomenon of mass migration of these birds.
Rapid Action Project (RAP), run by WTI and Natural Nagas with assistance of the state forest department to protect the birds, has now turned its attention on the Assam's Dima Hasao district where also the birds stop for a few weeks during October and November where they are hunted and traded.
RAP's Radhika Bhagat said they started an awareness programme in the area to encourage locals to help conserve these birds which play an important role in the eco-system by helping check the insect population.
The RAP project team is going to hold consultative meetings with the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council members along with forest department authorities and local village heads.
The team was also pushing for a resolution against hunting of Amur falcons in Umrangso, she said.