The Amur Falcon is a stunningly beautiful bird with an amazing life: this small raptor has one of the longest migration routes of all birds, doing up to 15,000 miles in a year. These falcons are also unusual in that they travel a huge distance over the sea and continue their journey at night.
Their route takes them from Siberia and northern China, where they breed, to Somalia, Kenya and South Africa, where they stay over winter. En route, these falcons stop in northeast India, where tens of thousands of them are brutally massacred in the remote state of Nagaland.
Conservation India estimates that every day during the peak migration between 12,000 and 14,000 birds are hunted for consumption and commercial sale. That means that every year between 120,000 and 140,000 birds are being murdered in Nagaland.
How horribly ironic that what is probably the single largest congregation of Amur falcons anywhere in the world is the site of the largest single massacre of birds.
From Conservation India:
In October this year, a group of us (Ramki Sreenivasan from Conservation India, Shashank Dalvi, Bano Haralu, Rokohebi Kuotsu) travelled to Doyang reservoir in Wokha district to check out information that thousands of falcons were being hunted annually on the banks of the Doyang reservoir during their passage through Wokha district, Nagaland. The trip confirmed our worst fears.
Doyang is a rockfill dam and hydroelectric plant on the Doyang River, a tributary of Brahmaputra, 30 km from Wokha town in Nagaland run by the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO).
On Oct 21, as we were reaching Doyang reservoir at 0830hrs, we found two women walking along the road openly with about 60 skinned birds that turned out to be amurs. This was our first encounter with the species. We saw the dead birds even before we saw the live ones.
How are these stunningly beautiful birds captured?
The details are gruesome: nets are hung around popular roosting sites for the birds, and the birds become ensnared by them. During the peak migration time thousands of birds are caught every day; the captured birds are kept alive in mosquito nets or cane baskets before being transported alive to customers and markets.
The birds that die are plucked and smoked for sale.
You can watch this process here, but be warned that some of the images are disturbing.
Not only is it illegal in India to hunt these birds, but in addition, India is a signatory to the Convention of Migratory Species. This means the country has a duty under international law to ensure this killing is halted immediately. India is also the President of the Convention on Biological Diversity for the next two years, which makes it even more urgent that they take action to stop this horrendous destruction.
If this story outrages and saddens you, please sign our petition to the President of India, demanding that this killing be halted immediately.
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Photo Credit: peterh50