Falcons’ marathon flight to Somalia

A female Amur falcon named ‘Tamenglong’ after the place in Manipur  by forest officials and set free by them with a GPS-fitted transmitter on November 5 reached Somalia at 1 pm on Saturday after flying a distance of 5,700 km.

Forest Minister T. Shyamkumar said here on Sunday that its male companion named ‘Manipur’ could not make it since some tribal hunters shot it down soon after it was released on the same day.

The Minister assured bird lovers that steps will be taken to ban air guns used in killing indigenous and migratory birds in the district.

Every year Amur falcons take a long journey covering many countries including China, Mongolia, Russia and India to reach Somalia.

A few thousands halt in Tamenglong district of Manipur and some parts of Nagaland where they feed on termites and other insects for about three weeks.

In the recent past hunters caught Amur falcons in hundreds everyday in Tamenglong district. Live and barbecued falcons were on open sale in many parts. However, elders of the district have opposed wanton killings of these migratory birds, which help farmers by feeding on termites and other insects which destroy the verdant crops.

Forest officials said there have been several awareness campaigns in the district not to kill the migratory falcons. Bird lovers say that there is an urgent need to spread the intensified campaigns since there are now reports of rampant bird catching.

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