Falcons, Not Firearms for This Manipur District as IPS Officer Grieves Death of Migratory Bird
District Magistrate of Manipur's Tamenglong Armstrong Pame has reinforced a ban on the hunting of the Amur falcon, a migratory bird that makes a stopover in the North East on its journey from China to Africa.
The Amur falcon. (News18)
Kolkata: The Miracle Man of Manipur IPS Armstrong Pame, who has a knack for naming birds after places, is grieving the loss of the North-Eastern state's namesake after an Amur falcon called ‘Manipur’ was shot dead in November 2018.
Pame, the district magistrate of Tamenglong district in Manipur, tagged and named two amur falcons after the state and the district. Of the two mates, the female was called Tamenglong and the male was named Manipur.
The Amur falcon, locally known as Akhuaipuina, is a migratory bird that travels thousands of kilometers from China to Africa. Annually, it makes a stop for 45 days in the North-East for roosting and colonising, owing to the favourable climate. The presence of an insect found locally also attracts the birds, as they get sufficient protein to continue their flight to Africa.
Unfortunately, the Miracle Man's Manipur was hunted last year, while its mate Tamenglong managed to survive and even complete its journey. The female bird was last located in Zambia.
"I have taken a pledge to protect each and every Amur falcon which will arrive here in Manipur this year. I was heartbroken when I got to know that my friend from China was shot dead in my state. Not only me, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Arun RS, Dr Suresh Kumar (scientist at Wildlife Institute of India), we all were disturbed with the killing," District Magistrate Pame told News18.
The IPS officer has asked residents of 29 villages to deposit their air guns and other shooting arms by October 25, strengthening a ban on the hunting of the birds. "An awareness campaign in the villages has also been initiated and the response is very good," he said.
The letter issued to the villagers reads, "The hunting/killing/destruction of wildlife including migratory birds Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) locally known as 'Akhuaipuina' in any way for food or possession or otherwise is a punishable offence under section 50 and 51 of the wildlife protection act 1972.There is total ban on hunting, catching, killing and selling the bird Amur falcon ‘Akhuaipuina’ by anyone in the district with immediate effect.”
The guns will not be returned until the birds leave for the second leg of their journey to Africa, or till November 30.
DFO Arun RS is also planning to organise a bird festival for the Amur falcons. “This year we are planning to tag five Amur falcons. We will organise a name keeping competition for the five birds which will be tagged," he said.
The forest officer further said, “We are emotionally connected to the Amur falcon. They are like our guests. When they leave, we actually miss them.”
Miracle Man Pame’s first claim to fame was when he got a 100 km stretch of road constructed without any help from the government in 2012. Since then, he has been involved in various social welfare programmes. Recently, he began an initiative wherein he invites 10 students from various schools for dinner every week to give them a first-hand account of an IAS officer’s experiences.
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