Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientists in collaboration with Manipur Forest Department is planning to tag five Amur falcons with satellite radio transmitters next month.
In an unfortunate incident, scientists lost contact with a satellite-tagged female Amur falcon after reaching Zambia in December last year.
WII scientist Dr Suresh Kumar when contacted said that they will tag altogether five falcons from Tamenglong district of Manipur in mid-October this time.
“A team from WII will be arriving in Manipur next month,” Kumar said.
Two Amur falcons (Falcon amurensis) – Tamenglong, a female falcon and Manipur, a male falcon, were satellite radio tagged by WII scientists and state forest officials in association few foreign experts on November 4, 2018.
It was part of one of the projects to study the flight route of these long-distance migratory birds and environmental patterns along the route.
But Manipur was found dead four days later at Keibu Ching area in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.
Tamenglong started her non-stop migration on November 9 and reached Somalia after non-stop five days flight covering thousands of kilometres in the third week of November last year.
But unfortunately she has lost contact after reaching Zambia by December 14 last year.
However, Longleng, another female Amur falcon named after Nagaland’s district, radio tagged along with four other falcons in first week of November 2016 which returned to the Indian sub-continent in the first week of May after completing her winter sojourn covering thousands of kilometers in African countries, had already reached her breeding area in northern China on May 25 this year.
The four satellite radio tagged birds namely -Phom, Eninum, Intaki and Hakhizhe stopped working while Longleng is still active.
“Now Longleng is on her way to Northeast India, so we’re hoping that we could tag one of her companions once they reach Tamenglong,” WII scientist Kumar who has tagged 10 birds since 2013 said.
“Amur falcon tagging programme is important because it gives awareness to the common people about the bird, forest and its rich biodiversity,” Kumar added.
He also said the local population has the pride of protecting not only the falcons which is a ‘global citizen’, but the important species in the forest and the rich biodiversity.
“We should understand why this unique bird is regularly visiting Manipur and Nagaland than other places,” he further said.
If we cut the forest they’ll not come because they’re biological indicators for the health of forest, he added.
The falcons spend their summers at their breeding grounds in southeast Russia and northeast China.
They migrate to their wintering grounds in South Africa, from where they start their return journey in April-May through Afghanistan and East Asia, undertaking a yearly journey of about 20,000 km.
In their journey, these pigeon-sized birds arrive in large numbers during October in Nagaland and Manipur besides a few places in the Northeast.
They leave the region in November after having enough food for their non-stop flight to Africa where they spend their winters.