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BROCHURE RACK

120,000 Amur falcons massacred in 1 week in India

09/11/2012 08:44:15 birds/2012_july/conservation_india_amur_hunters Huge massacre of migratory falcons an annual event in India

Our thanks to by Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan of Conservation India for most of the information and all of the images for this article.

Amur falcons migrate from southern Africa to Mongolia and eastern China, and back, every year, an extraordinary round-trip of some 14,000 miles.

However as many as 100,000 falcons (some estimate even more) are killed on their migration when they reach India's north-eastern state of Nagaland. Witnesses claim that tens of thousands of Amur falcons are being trapped and slaughtered every day during their migration.

Some 120,000 Amur falcons are killed in 1 week every year in India. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

Some 120,000 Amur falcons are killed in 1 week every year in India. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

According to Conservation India: "We estimate that during the peak migration 12,000 - 14,000 birds are being hunted for consumption and commercial sale every day. We further estimate that a mind-boggling 120,000 to 140,000 birds are being slaughtered in Nagaland every year during their passage through the state."
This is probably the single largest congregation of Amur falcons recorded anywhere in the world and it is tragic that they meet such a fate.

It is significant to note that India, as a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), is duty bound to prevent this massacre, provide safe passage, as well as draw up appropriate action plans for the long-term conservation of this bird. In the recently concluded Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), of which India is the president for the next two years, the importance of CMS in conserving species, and especially in stopping bushmeat hunting, was repeatedly stressed.

In October this year, a group from Conservation India travelled to Doyang Reservoir in Wokha district of Nagaland to check out information that thousands of falcons were being hunted annually on the banks of the Doyang Reservoir during their passage through Nagaland. The trip confirmed our worst fears.

Amur falcons roosting on the power lines of Nagaland in India. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

Amur falcons roosting on the power lines of Nagaland in India. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

Number of Amurs around Doyang
Almost immediately, we saw thousands of amurs on the transmission lines along the mountain ridge. They seemed to travel overnight and reach Doyang during the early hours. They seemed to use these wires for resting and hawking insects. (Amur falcons are known to be wholly insectivorous).

Here we estimated ~6000 Amur Falcons at 0840hrs. This count was only from the wires visible to us, and the wires stretched for hundreds of metres in each direction. The next morning, at 0630hrs we counted ~12,000 birds on the same wires and ~23,000 birds flying above the Doyang Reservoir. Later at 0830hrs the birds were seen using transmission lines. The numbers dropped considerably and by 1230hrs, very few falcons were seen on the wires.

Vast nets are spread across the Amur falcons roosting sites. The falcons, once captured are mostly sold alive for food, but some are killed and cooked locally. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

Vast nets are spread across the Amur falcons roosting sites. The falcons, once captured are mostly sold alive for food, but some are killed and cooked locally. Photo courtesy of Conservation India.

Hunters with 1000 dead birds
Over the course of the day, we observed 12 hunters on the main road carrying between 60-200 birds per head totalling over a 1000 dead birds carried to their homes or local markets and even door-to-door selling.

It is not fully understood what the market is for this many birds. They are killed to be eaten, but these numbers vastly outweigh any demand that could be generated from the local villages, so there must be some external demand to account for a massacre on this scale.

Recommendations
Conservation India have made a number of recommendations, to be implemented at local, regional and national level, to put an end to this slaughter.  Click here to see their recommendations.

Amur falcon migration
Migrating Amur falcons leave their Asian breeding range and travel to northeast India and Bangladesh, where they fatten up while staging for overland flights over peninsular India. Subsequently, they undertake the longest regular overwater passage of any raptor, crossing over the Indian Ocean between Western India and tropical East Africa, a journey of more than 4,000 km, which also includes nocturnal flight. This species is finely attuned to the strong monsoon tailwinds, which results in its late arrival in eastern Africa in autumn. Migrants arrive in their southern African winter range in November-December and depart by early May. This species is an "elliptical migrant", and its return route back to its breeding range is largely overland and to the north and west of its southbound route.

Amur falcons that have been captured in mist nets awaiting shipment. Photo courtesy of Conservation India 

 

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

One need to know that in most remote places there is no education of the natives, they just see the new technology (Nets en rifels) as a better way to do what they did in all times. the point is that it is the heads of tribes and teachers need to be approach to learn about the devastation they do and it feedback toward the people themselves. Every one that have been 30-40 years back in the fare east knows what a different world is it now.. and the same in the sea... what one can not understand is governments as Japan that allow fishing on large scale at this very moment!
En Education is the big need!!!

Posted by: Avi Lev | 01 Feb 2013 12:54:51

Absolutely shocking -- I first saw the video last week on the Focusing on Wildlife blog, and posted the video to the Ireland's Wildlife Facebook page.

As someone just pointed out on Twitter though, we've been doing the same thing to the denizens of our seas for decades... we just have a more visceral reaction to this because it's more visible, and we naturally tend to empathise more with birds.

Awful to watch... and needs to be addressed... but don't be under any illusion that we somehow have the moral high ground.

Posted by: Calvin Jones | 14 Nov 2012 10:55:00

Amur Falcon Massacre

Such an undignified end for these beautiful birds

Posted by: Darragh Sinnott | 13 Nov 2012 22:46:52

Amur Falcon Massacre

The evidence of this massacre can only mean that education is lacking . Despite spending billions of pounds on modern technologies, the mass of the population is languishing in the 'dark ages', how sad.

Posted by: Alan Bender | 12 Nov 2012 22:27:40

sub humans

it cant be possible to sustain this number of massacred birds. by the time the british government get thier act together in a further 3 years time, and stop more money going to this dreadful country, it will be too late for this species and doubtless many others.. people with this mentality dont deserve to survive.

Posted by: dee donworth | 12 Nov 2012 17:50:15

Amur Falcon Massacre

this is horrendous, made me almost cry watching the video footage.
This has to end now.

Posted by: Rob Hoare | 11 Nov 2012 21:51:43

Amur Falcon massacre

The heartless killers should also be treated like they treat those beautiful birds. Humans are the worst kind to grace this planet. Except for a few minority conservation group in India, it can do nothing to stop this tribes decimating the wildlife so far east of the country.

Posted by: kips | 10 Nov 2012 15:01:58

Amur Falcon Massacre

What on earth is going on and why is the Indian government doing nothing to stop it? I thought the situation in Malta and C
yprus was bad enough, but this is horrendous.
I agree with Jack Linsey about Hen Harriers!

Posted by: Andrea Polden | 09 Nov 2012 23:04:47

shocked

I'm shocked at the news that a bird of prey is being massacred in such numbers - must be unsustainable surely! The Indian Govt needs to take action

Posted by: patrick marks | 09 Nov 2012 22:28:36

Amur Falcon holocaust

I have seen this beautiful Falcon breeding in China, on migration in Asia and at wintering roosts i South Africa and just fell in love.
But can it ever be worse than this. I just lost my last hope to the human species.

Posted by: Gunnar Pettersson | 09 Nov 2012 17:59:24

Amur Falcon holocaust

I have seen this beautiful Falcon breeding in China, on migration in Asia and at wintering roosts i South Africa and just fell in love.
But can it ever be worse than this. I just lost my last hope to the human species.

Posted by: Gunnar Pettersson | 09 Nov 2012 17:47:12

Amur Falcon massacre

Sorry, but it's the sort of thing that one has come to expect in the Asian continent, whether it be in the treatment of birds or mammals.
But is it any worse than we in Britain slaughtering Hen Harriers to extinction? Not on the same scale I admit but there are no degrees of persecution.
A curse on all their houses!!

Posted by: Jack Lindsey | 09 Nov 2012 17:31:02

Do They Care?

The Indian Governement cares nothing for its own people, why would they ever care about birds. They are a joke!

Posted by: steve moyes | 09 Nov 2012 15:19:59

amur falcon masacre

We'll not be happy until none left and then which species next!!! Glad we're stopping aid to India.

Posted by: Peter Burton | 09 Nov 2012 14:30:45

Amur Falcon Massacre

Truly horrendous, felt physically sick watching the video. This has to stop here and now!

Posted by: Tony Cross | 09 Nov 2012 14:07:10

Amur Falcon Massacre

Good Grief! This is just too terrible for words. How long has the Indian Government known about this horror and done nothing to stop it? This is truly shocking.

Posted by: Owen Burnham | 09 Nov 2012 13:30:08

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