Amur falcon

  • The Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) is a small raptor (predatory birds) of the falcon family.
  • They breed in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern and East African coasts.
  • They get their name from the Amur River that forms the border between Russia and China.
  • Amur falcon is locally known as Akhuipuina, and they arrives in northeastern parts mainly in Manipur and Nagaland of India, from Siberia and stay about two months in India before they head for warmer climates in Kenya and South Africa in a non-stop flight over the Arabian Sea.
    • Doyang Lake in Nagaland is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration from their breeding grounds to warmer South Africa. Thus, Nagaland is also known as the “Falcon Capital of the World,”.
    • These birds roost in Nagaland for a span of 1 month and help in maintaining the ecosystem by feeding on a large number of insects, thus controlling the population of insects.
    • Termites are available in abundance during September and October giving it the necessary food which gives it the necessary energy to carry on the journey to Africa by crossing the Arabian Sea.
  • The one-way journey via India is about 20,000 km long and the birds do this twice a year. The bird has one of the longest and most fascinating migratory paths in the avian world.
Amur falcon

Conservation efforts:

  • It is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and included under its Schedule IV.
  • Hunting of the birds or possessing its meat is punishable with imprisonment up to three years or a fine upto 25,000 or with bonds.
  • In 2018, the forest department started a conservation programme by radio-tagging the birds to study their migratory route.
  • It is listed as Least Concern species under IUCN’s red data list.
  • It is also listed in Appendix II of CITES ( The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Threats: 

  • Illegal trapping and killing during migration, habitat loss from agricultural practices and land reclamation.
  • Illegal trade and hunting:
    • An estimated one lakh Amur Falcons were trapped and killed by villagers for the commercial meat trade in different years.
    • Both the trade and the appetite for the Amur falcon seem to be growing: while some birds were transported in trucks for sale in places far from the trapping spot, others were discarded, simply because too many had been caught.
    • According to conservation India, each bird is sold for a price between Rs. 16-25 (always sold as number of birds for Rs. 100 ($ 1.9 / £ 1.2).
      • This sale usually happens door-to-door in Pangti village (where most hunters are from) as well as nearby Doyang and Wokha towns. Hunters (and sellers) know that Amur killing is illegal and banned by the Deputy Commissioner (Wokha district) since 2010.
      • However, the conservation efforts helped in saving these birds and it was not hunted down in Nagaland.
      • Awareness was spread among the local people with the help of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Nagaland Forest Department. Moreover, these areas are patrolled by protection squads made up of former hunters.
Doyang Lake
  • Doyang Lake is huge water reservoir that is formed due to the impounding of the waters of the River Doyang near Doyang dam region attracts a large number of migratory birds during the winter season each year, primary among these is the Amur Falcon.
Doyang River
  • Doyang River is one of the largest rivers of Nagaland. This long river is also called as Dzu or Dzulu by locals in Wokha District.
  • With its origin from small streams near the Nagaland–Manipur border, it first flows to the form the River Dzüü and Sidzü which flows in a parallel direction in Kohima District and Phek District to meet at the Zünheboto District.
  • It then flows to Wokha District where it is known by its name, the Doyang and moves south west direction and then north in Assam to join the Dhansiri which together in turn is a left tributary of the Brahmaputra.
  • The main tributaries of this river are Tsui, Tullo and Tishi.
Nagaland River Map
Nagaland River Map
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