From being hunted to Birds of God, how people in Nagaland changed their approach

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New Delhi | October 27, 2020 12:25 PM

Every year Amur falcons flew from Siberia and the northern part of China to Southern Africa to spend winters.

amur falcon, amur falcon migration route, amur falcon festival, amur falcon habitat, amur falcon facts, amur falcon nagaland,After that sensational news, the central government, state authorities, and wildlife experts initiated a conservation project for Amur falcons in Nagaland and Manipur. (IE report)

From being hunted to become a symbol of hope, faith — Amur falcons have become “Birds of God” in Nagaland. The plight and flight of Amur falcons in the Wokha district of Nagaland have been nothing sort of miraculous. Eight years back, the killing of Amur falcons in Nagaland’s Wokha district created a flutter in the global media as news came out that as many as 1 lakh birds are being hunted every day with an aim to sell their meat, as per an Indian Express report.

After that sensational news, the central government, state authorities, and wildlife experts initiated a conservation project for Amur falcons in Nagaland and Manipur. People belonging to local communities played pivotal roles in this conservation project. Experts have revealed that hunting has been totally stopped. Now, the Central government has decided to extend the project in areas such as Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam, the IE report said.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) official Dr Suresh Kumar said that once the news came out authorities were taken by surprise. The Environment Ministry ordered a probe into the matter. The state government took a stern step of banning the hunting of the bird. They also stopped developmental meant for villages that were involved in the mass hunting. Kumar, however, underlined that the involvement of the community made the project so successful and was the prime reason behind the quick, complete turnaround.

Every year Amur falcons flew from Siberia and the northern part of China to Southern Africa to spend winters. These birds used to make stopovers in the Wokha district. Villagers used to lay traps, hunt the birds, and sell them for money.

The authorities made sure that the conservation project remains community-driven. The governemnt and WII officials convinced the village council, student leaders, and the church by explaining the benefits. Once there is international recognition, tourists started thronging from India and across the world. These led to the bloom of the tourism industry in the area.

Ancestral beliefs played a major role, villagers considered these “Ra Ruai” which means “Birds of God”. While people started believing that these birds bring a good harvest, the Church emphasized that Bible vouches for wildlife conservation, Kumar said. The project started in Nagaland in 2013, it was extended to Manipur in 2016. The WII started a satellite tagging project.

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