Stop The Massacre Of The Amur Falcon!
December 2012: The brutal massacre of the Amur Falcon in regions of Northeast India has long been suspected by Conservation India – a recent survey at the Doyang reservoir in Wokha district, Nagaland by a small group of conservationists (Ramki Sreenivasan from Conservation India, Shashank Dalvi, Bano Haralu and Rokohebi Kuotsu) confirmed their worst fears.
About the Campaign:
“As we were reaching the Doyang reservoir at 8.30 a.m., we found two women openly walking along the road with about 60 skinned birds that turned out to be Amurs. This was our first encounter with the species. We saw the dead birds even before we saw the live ones,” say Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan in their account of the investigation. As the day progressed, they witnessed as many as 12 hunters carrying over a thousand dead birds to their homes, local markets, or even for door-to-door sale. Annually, over a hundred thousand birds are hunted, killed and traded in the region.
The Amur Falcon is a small, handsome raptor, well known for making an arduous journey from Siberia to South Africa every year. Having one of the longest migration routes of all birds – up to 22,000 km. a year – they cross the Himalayan peaks, and the entire expanse of the Indian Ocean, often flying through the night. The transmission lines in Workha town, the site of the Doyang rockfill dam and hydroelectric plant, function as one of the many spots in the region that the Amurs use as a resting point for around two weeks in October during their passage to South Africa. In fact, Nagaland probably witnesses the single largest congregation of Amur Falcons recorded anywhere in the world, a fact that is horrendously bloodied by the massacre of up to 12,000-14,000 birds every day during peak hunting season.
Interviews with hunters in the region revealed that 60-70 hunting groups are organised, each setting up about 10 nets over the transmission lines, attaining an average catch of 18 birds per net, worth about Rs. 750 (approximately Rs. 25 per bird). When one takes into consideration that migration periods may be longer, that hunting by other methods (shooting, catapults, etc.) has not been included, and that the trend is acceptable and most likely mimicked in other Naga villages, it becomes clear that the rate of decimation of the species in India is terrifying. The devastated authors stated, “By the end of the day, with the stench of smoked Amurs in our heads, the scale and the ruthlessness of the massacre numbed us.”
Although rapid steps were taken by the Deputy Commissioner of Workha district following the exposé, community and village leaders voiced a legitimate concern – spreading the message of being “guardians” to the birds rather than being “destroyers” does not supply a substitute to the locals who depend on this trade for their income. This must be addressed by awareness and training programmes in the region that provide these communities with the tools necessary to gain an alternative, sustainable form of livelihood.
Photograph by Ramki Sreenivasan / Conservation India.
Recommendations for Immediate Action made by Conservation India
The roosting place is localised (one specific bank of the reservoir) and can easily be sealed off by the authorities [Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) and Forest Department].
Gain an understanding and seal trade of Amur meat mainly in big towns like Dimapur and Kohima.
Aggressively follow up on the enforcement of the D.C.’s ban with Forest Department, Police, local communities and the Church.
Create awareness of the ban and the legal consequences (monetary fine) in all villages, including Pangti, Wokha, Doyang and Sungro.
Write to: Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan,
Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003.
Tel.: +91-011-24360721, E-mail:
The Chief Wildlife Warden,
Uttarakhand,Camp Office, Chandrabani,
Telefax: 0135 2644691