School Bags Help the Flight of the Amur Falcon
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On April 1, 2016, the students of two schools of village Pangti in the Sungro administrative circle of Wokha district, Nagaland received a special gift: new school bags.
WTI’s Dilip Deori distributing bags to schoolchildren at Pangti village
The bags were presented by the village council members of Pangti, the Gaon Burhaas (village elders) and members of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) team working on Amur falcon conservation in Wokha.
The Wokha district is ground zero when it comes to Amur falcons in India. It is here, on their 15,000-mile migration from the Amur region of Russia, China and Mongolia all the way to southern Africa, that these sleek grey raptors make a pit stop in Indian territory. They descend in their hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, to roost by the vast Doyang Hydroelectric Reservoir and its surrounding jhummed lands.
As recently as 2012, over a hundred thousand falcons were reportedly trapped and killed in the district. But that was then. A solid conservation partnership between WTI, local village councils, the Amur Falcon Union, the Arunachal Forest Department, Wildlife Institute of India, Natural Nagas and other NGOs has engineered a remarkable change. Now, when the falcons swoop down to roost in Wokha every October they find a far more hospitable environment. Pangti village, indeed, proudly declares itself the ‘Amur Falcon Capital’ of India!
The distribution of schoolbags in Pangti is a small but crucial component of this work, blending community outreach with conservation awareness. The headmaster of Pangti’s Government Middle School thanked WTI for the activity: “The distribution of these bags is an effective way to send students the message of how important the conservation of Amur falcons and other species is”, he said. The headmistress of the Government Higher Secondary School echoed that sentiment, stating that it also showed how “WTI has always carried out its activities at the grassroots level.”
A total of 245 bags were distributed to students and as Dilip Deori, Manager & Project Lead, WTI said on the occasion, “more important than the bags themselves is the message printed on them: ‘SAVE AMUR FALCONS’. It is the conservation of the falcons that is most important.”
AFRAU members wear their new life jackets with WTI’s Dilip Deori
WTI also distributed 10 life jackets to members of Amur Falcons Roosting Areas Union (AFRAU) in Pangti the same day. The protection squad of AFRAU patrols roosting sites near the Doyang Reservoir when the falcons visit the region. Nribemo Merry, Secretary of AFRAU affirmed that the life jackets would help his team work more efficiently: “Earlier we had to travel over tough hilly terrain to reach different roosting sites but with the life jackets we can use a boat and move easily and safely.”