Siberian visitors freeze Assam-Meghalaya border dispute
- Pangti village at Doyang in Nagaland’s Wokha district is selected as the venue of the inaugural edition of the Amur Falcon Conservation Week & Festivals from 8 to 10 November this year.
2. The festival this year, an initiative of the Nagaland government’s tourism department.
3. It offers a comprehensive package to tourists: bird-watching, nature treks and photography, screening films on wildlife, indigenous cultural events and game, a music and a food festival, trekking etc.
4. About Amur Falcon:
- The Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) is a small raptor of the falcon family.
- The raptors breed in southeastern Siberia and northern China, and migrate in millions across India and then over the Indian Ocean to southern Africa before returning to Mongolia and Siberia, making their 22,000-kilometre migratory route one of the longest amongst all avian species.
- IUCN Status: Least Concern
- Friends of Farmers: The falcons eat various winged termites and other insects that destroy crops thus helping farmers.
5. Earlier destruction of Amur Falcons:
- In the past, hundreds of trussed up Amur falcons used to be on sale in village markets and towns, while some were sold fried or smoked.
6. Earlier Conservation Efforts of Amur Falcons:
- Community-level programs in Nagaland such as the Amur Falcon Roosting Areas Union (AFRAU) encouraged community vigilance and patrols during roosting seasons.
- Conservation bodies like the Birdlife International, Bombay Natural History Society, and Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation got together to fund a comprehensive project to stop the entrapment and killing of the Amur falcons.
- ‘Friends Of The Amur Falcon’ campaign gave the local community a sense of ownership of the conservation effort along with the Nagaland government.
- The Tyrso Valley Wildlife Protection Society is an NGO formed by the villagers of the Meghalaya village adjoining Umru (On Assam-Meghalaya border). The group has been organising the Amur Falcon Festival since 2015 to celebrate the Amur falcon birds.
7. Amur Falcon uniting people:
- Umru is one of 12 disputed areas along the Assam-Meghalaya border, since Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972.
- Umru village acts as a as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration.
- Assam claims the Umru village is under Baithalangso Assembly constituency of East Karbi Anglong district while Meghalaya asserts it is under Mawhati Assembly constituency of its Ri-Bhoi district.
- However disputes are forgotten when the village welcomes the falcons in mid-October, uniting to ensure a safe stay for the birds.
- Both communities have made common cause in protection of the Amur falcons and have fixed a fine of ₹25,000 for anyone caught ensnaring or killing the birds.