India Naga tribe pledges to protect falcons

Amur falcon The Amur falcons are hunted for meat in India's Nagaland state

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India's Naga tribespeople have pledged to protect a falcon which they have traditionally hunted for meat.

Three villages in Wokha district in Nagaland state have signed a resolution to penalise offenders who hunt Amur falcons.

They are located in the Doyang area, which is the main roosting site for the birds during their flight from Siberia to Africa.

Tens of thousands of these falcons have been hunted every year for their meat.

Hunters use fishing nets near a reservoir in Doyang to trap the birds when they come to roost.

The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has signed an agreement with a local non-governmental organisation and leaders of Pangti, Asshaa and Sungro villages to protect the migratory birds.

"This is a significant milestone for conserving these birds who have been threatened because they are hunted in thousands when they pass through Nagaland," says Sunil Kyarong, regional head of WTI.

Under the agreement, local tribespeople will set up groups to keep a watch on the roosting or foraging sites of the falcon, build watch towers to curb poaching and begin an awareness campaign to protect the birds.

Those who hunt and kill the bird will also be fined up to 5,000 rupees ($80, £48).

A local NGO, Natural Nagas, has also helped over 30 families involved in hunting falcons for a living to set up poultry farms as an alternative source of livelihood.

In a report last year, wildlife NGO Conservation India estimated that 12,000 to 14,000 Amur falcons were being killed in Nagaland every year.

"India is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species and 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," the group said.

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