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WTI, Blue Hills Society Scale Up Project to Protect Amur Falcons in Umarangso

An Amur falcon seized from hunters, prior to its release #BackToTheWild

Dima Hasao District, Assam, December 5, 2016: The industrial town of Umrangso, located in the North Cachar Hills of Assam, first came into the conservation spotlight two years ago when confirmed reports of the large scale hunting of Amur falcons were received from the region. The Kupli Reservoir, which hosts the raptors in their hundreds of thousands during their annual migrations, was found to be a major hunting site.

WTI’s Wild Aid Division had initiated a Rapid Action Project in partnership with the Haflong-based Blue Hills Society, the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council and the Assam Forest Department in October 2014, under which local volunteers from select villages near the reservoir began patrolling falcon roosting sites. The project, which is supported by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF - India), has proved very successful in bringing down the hunting of Amur falcons in and around Umrangso.

A team of forest staff and local volunteers patrolling an Amur falcon roosting site

The project has this year received additional support from donor Kannan Jayaram and is reaching out to more villages around the Kupli Reservoir through a ‘Save Kalengmaha, Save Dao Pana’ (local names for the Amur falcon) campaign. Local youth have formed clubs like the Falcon Youth Club and New Tumbung Tourism Development Society and are assisting the forest department in patrolling Amur falcon roosting sites round the clock.  Some 80 Amur falcons have been rescued from hunters and released back into the wild thus far.

A Falcon Festival was also organised on October 27 to promote local awareness about the conservation of the species. Several dignitaries from the state and district administration participated in the festival and extended their full support in the promotion of wildlife tourism in Umrangso, with a focus on Amur falcons. The project also received a major boost when Smt Pramila Rani Brahma, Minister of Forest and Environment, Government of Assam laid a foundation stone at New Tumbung, Umrangso, declaring it an Amur Falcon Roosting Hub and a Protected Area. The Hon’ble Minister stated that a boundary wall would be constructed at government expense in order to restrict the entry of hunters and provide better protection to the roosting site.

Smt Pramila Rani Brahma, Minister of Forest and Environment, Government of Assam inaugurates the Amur Falcon Roosting Hub at New Tumbung, Umrangso

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