Humans: A threat to migratory birds in the North East

GUWAHATI/DIMAPUR: With early winter coming in, means a time to seek fortune for many villagers. As Amur falcons migrate from Siberia, the villagers hunt them in large number and earn a lot in Nagaland and parts of Manipur.

However, if environmentalists have their way this year, those villagers in Nagaland or elsewhere in the North East region will be disappointed during this winter as their plans to ‘harvest’ on migratory birds may be restricted.

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Conservation India have urged Union Environment and Forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan to prevent the large scale killings of Amur falcons in Nagaland and elsewhere in the region.

The migratory birds are killed for their meat. Usually every year when the winter sets in Amur falcons are killed in large number in Nagaland. They are also killed in Tamenglong and some parts Senapati districts in Manipur during this time of the season. A bird may cost anything from Rs 20 to Rs 70 depending on the places where these birds are sold.

A villager in Tamenglong has said that every year he earns few thousand rupees by selling the smoked Amur falcons. The villagers either use catapults or traps to catch the birds. Late afternoon or early evening is the best time of the day to catch the birds, according to villagers who are waiting for this season. The season means a time to seek fortune for most of the villagers.

People in Nagaland too are fond of the meat of these birds and November is the month when migratory birds are hunted in large number.

A drive from Dimapur to Kohima, one witnesses killed migratory birds seen sold in the roadsides by the villagers. It can be noted here that environmentalists from Conservation India documented the trapping and killing of Amur falcons everyday during their migration from Siberia to South Africa.

Shashanki Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan from the Conservation India said, “We estimate that during the peak migration 12,000-14,000 birds are being hunted for consumption and commercial sale every day. We further estimate that a mind-boggling 120,000 to 140,000 birds are being slaughtered in Nagaland every year during their passage through the state”.

It can also be noted here that Amur falcons are protected birds under Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Convention of Migratory Species, of which India is a signatory. (NNN)

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