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WTI-Blue Hills Bring Down Amur Falcon Hunting in Assam
Dima Hasao District, Assam, November 9.2014: After the successful campaign on the conservation of Amur falcons in Wokha, Nagaland, WTI in partnership with Haflong-based Blue Hills Society has initiated a Rapid Action Project (RAP) to protect Amur falcons (falco amurensis)near Umrangso, Dima Hasao District, North Cachar Hills, Assam. Umrangso shot into limelight when several reports from the region confirmed hunting of these beautiful birds in large numbers for their meat. This became a serious cause of concern for WTI which had played a pivotal role in mobilising communities in Nagaland in their commitment of not hunting Amur falcons. The WTI-Blue Hills project immediately swung into action and has been successful in bringing down the hunting of Amur falcons in Umrangso as compared to previous years.


Amur falcon rescued by WTI-Blue Hills Society team.
Photo:Blue Hills Society/WTI

WTI and Blue-Hills Society began working together for the Saving the Jatinga birds in 2013 and that is when the roosting site at Umrangso was encountered. Each evening these birds would arrive at the Umrangso (Kapli) reservoir and roost on the trees. Under this RAP, WTI-Blue Hills team started monitoring the arrival of Amur falcons which began on October 17, 2014. By October 22, the numbers swelled to almost 5,000 after which the patrolling intensified. The next day, the patrolling team caught a few hunters and took away their kill, catapult, marbles and torches. They also released the captured birds and roped in more volunteers for patrolling.

“We submitted a letter for protection of falcons to Debojeet Thaosen, the Chief Executive Member (CEM), Dima Hasao Autonomous Council, Haflong and requested him to take serious action against the perpetrators. The CEM promised to do everything possible in safe guarding these birds and instructed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Dima Hasao district to look into the matter,” said Dr Amit Phonglo, Blue Hills Society.


Police and Forest Department personnel at the Amur falcon
roosting site near Umrangso. 
Photo:Blue Hills Society/WTI
 
As a result, the DCP instructed the Forest Department to take every possible step to protect the birds. On October 27, the team received a report of hunters entering the jungle, but the patrolling team chased them out. After this incident, the team felt the need for some restrictions from the District Administration to stop hunters from entering the roosting site.
Subsequently, the team submitted a memorandum to JN Hazarika, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Dima Hasao Forest Division (West), Haflong, requesting him to impose a ban on catapults and other weapons in and around Umrangso They even asked the DFO to impose fine on the individuals caught hunting falcons. He promised to take the issue in the EC of the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council.

“As a result of these interventions, the team had a major breakthrough when the district administration imposed Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code. Thereafter, strict vigilance has been put in the Umrangso area as the volunteers of WTI-Blue Hills Society, Forest Department and police authorities are guarding the roosting site,” said Radhika Bhagat, IFAW-WTI Head of Wild Aid.

An Amur falcon protection committee has been formed with the village heads of New Tumbung, Dima Hading, Sibaraipur area and block area and the Forest Department. Dr Bhaskar Choudhary, Regional Head, Assam (WTI) further added, "The Forest Department, civil administration and the Dima Hasao council have come forward to ensure a long term protection of the birds in the district. This RAP has been a success because we and our partners identified the problem and found a redressal mechanism in protecting the Amur falcons. We remain committed to protecting these birds."
 
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