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Conservation of Amur Falcon in Nagaland and along its migration route

Last year, Nagaland, a small State in NE India made global environment news for the wrong reasons.  A hard-hitting campaign by Indian conservationists published graphic video images to expose a mass harvest of Amur Falcons – a small but long distant migrant bird of prey that breeds in Eastern Russia and China, and annually flies around 22,000km all the way across Asia, over the Indian Ocean to wintering grounds in Southern Africa.

Following the revelations last autumn, India acted swiftly and introduced a wide range of measures to implement and enforce pre-existing legislation to protect the Amur Falcons.  An armed Forest Protection Force was immediately deployed that seized nets and released any captured live falcons that were found.  This year the Force has been patrolling the roost areas every day since the falcons arrived three weeks ago.  The Nagaland Forest Department, supported by NGOs has led an awareness-raising campaign holding meetings with community and religious leaders, as well as open public meetings.   Eco-clubs under the Forest Department’s flagship programme ‘National Green Corps’ were given specific scientific input through presentations, movie screenings and story-telling.  With young people in mind, a ‘Save the Amur Falcon Marathon’ was organized for villagers on 19 October 2013 using a route around the main areas where the falcon trapping had taken place.  The outcome has been a spectacular with the falcon harvest being completely halted this season. 

The six-person specialist team went to Nagaland as part of a joint initiative to capture and tag three falcons with satellite transmitters.  Hosted by Nagaland Forest Department, ornithologists from the Wildlife Institute of India, MME/BirdLife Hungary and the Raptors MOU planned their visit to Nagaland to coincide with the annual arrival of Amur Falcons in the State.  The falcons spend about one month there every autumn where they feast on insects to gain fitness for their immense onward journey to Africa.  

The project aims to provide new insights into the ecology of the Amur Falcon, particularly during its short stay in Nagaland and subsequent traverse across India. It should also provide the Nagalese people with knowledge about the origins of their annual falcon visitors.

a) To better understand the behaviour and ecology of the Amur Falcon during its presence in Nagaland, along the migration route and in the wintering areas in Africa

b) To support conservation efforts to reduce and ultimately eradicate the harvesting of Amur Falcons in northeast India by raising awareness of the international importance of the species, particularly amongst local communities in Nagaland.

Description:Provision of three 5g Argos satellite tags including data transmission and management for 1 year
Start date:01 November 2013
End date:31 October 2014
Responsibility:MME/BirdLife Hungary
Output:Supply of three 5g Argos satellite tags and associated data capture management
Description:Two experts participate in a one week joint technical mission to Nagaland, India to trap and fit the tags to three Amur Falcons
Start date:03 November 2013
End date:09 November 2013
Responsibility:MME/BirdLife Hungary
Output:Safe and effective capture and fitment of satellite tags to 3 Amur Falcons
Description:Manage, analyze and share the data gathered from the satellite tags and regularly upload these results to an online platform publicly available
Start date:01 November 2013
End date:31 October 2014
Responsibility:MME/BirdLife Hungary
Output:Data received from Argos analysed, shared and uploaded to an online platform publicly available, commencing within 2 weeks of the tags being fitted; - Data regularly updated on the online platform for an initial period of 12 months

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Implementing AgencyThe Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME/BirdLife Hungary)
Collaborating agenciesNagaland Forest Department Wildlife Institute of India

Activity start dateNovember 2013
Activity end dateOctober 2014
Taxonomic groupBirds
Target regionAsia
Target countryIndia
Final technical reportYes

Unsustainable hunting and trapping