Tale of 'Tamenglong & Manipur' two GPS Satellite Transmitters tagged Amur Falcons (Falco Amurensis)
- Part 1 -

Kh Hitler Singh*

 Tale of 'Tamenglong & Manipur' two GPS Satellite Transmitters tagged Amur Falcons
Tale of 'Tamenglong & Manipur' two GPS Satellite Transmitters tagged Amur Falcons :: Pix - TSE

Tamenglong Forest Division is earlier known as Western Forest Division, Tamenglong. Western Forest Divison consisted of four Ranges, viz., Tamenglong Range, Tamei Range, Noney Range and Nungba Range. After the bifurcation of Tamenglong District into Tamenglong and Noney Districts in 2017, the erstwhile division also got bifurcated into two divisions namely Tamenglong Forest Division and Noney Forest Division.

Now each Division has three Ranges viz., Tamenglong, Tamei and Tousem Ranges under Tamenglong Forest Division and Noney, Nungba and Khoupum Forest Ranges under Noney Forest Division.

Tamenglong Forest Division is really rich in biodiversity and wildlife. But the Forest is traditionally own by the community. There is no Reserve Forest. Under this Division there are three proposed Wildlife Sanctuary viz Jiri-Makru Wildlife Sanctuary, Bunning WLS, Zeliad WLS. Recently Azuram Community Reserve of 5.85 Sq Km has been gazette by the State Government.

The Division has carried out massive and extensive exercise in many far flung villages for raising awareness on the need of Conservation of Wildlife besides protecting Forest and Wildlife Habitat during the tenure of former DFO, Shri Huri Golmei.

Survey and awareness for Tigers, co-predators and preys were carried out in three areas of Chingkao, Bunning and Lemta & Chakha areas with Camera traps etc. during the year 2018-19. The Researchers of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun had helped the Department in the exercise. Elephant corridors had also been surveyed and identified.

Research of Amur falcon, locally known as Akhoipuina or Ahoipuna in Rongmei Dialect, is an important component for the scheme entitled “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat outside the protected Areas for Conservation & Protection of Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) in Tamenglong Forest Division which is funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MOEF & CC) since 2016-17.

To study the migration route and period of migration etc., two Amur falcons were tagged with GPS PTT (Platform Transmitter Terminal) or simply Satellite Radio transmitters (SRT) in the year 2018-19.

Forest Department, Manipur is one of the pioneering agencies which had taken up Satellite Radio transmitter tagging work in North East India. In 2011-12 three Brahminy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) were tagged with PTT in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society at Tanjeng Lamyai Pat and these birds were tracked upto Northern China.

For undertaking the work of capture and fitting with SRT a team of Scientists came to Tamenglong on 2nd November 2019. The team consists of the following members.
1. Dr. Suresh Kumar, Scientist –F, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
2. Peter Palatiz, Raptor Biologists, Hungary
3. Peter Fehervari, -do-
4. Zsofia Sumegi -do-
5. Amarjeet Kaur, Research Scholar, WII, Dehradun

On the other hand Forest Official team were represented by
1. Shri Arun R.S., DFO/Tamenglong.
2. Kh. Hitler Singh, RFO/Tamenglong.
3. A. Promeshwor Singh, Deputy RO.

During the migratory season in 2017, Dr. Suresh Kumar visited Tamenglong and took stock of feasibilities of Research and advised us to be fully prepared for tagging work in advance in Bhalok village during migration season of 2018. As directed, Forest Department made many strips cutting of Moubi Bamboo for erection of canopy mist-net for capturing Amur falcons for research study in Bhalok village.

But when the season came in 2018, the number of Amur falcons roosting in Bhalok were very few in number as compared to the previous year and their behavior were also found to be changed. They used to leave the roosting site very early in the morning.

This behavioral change might be due to the presence of heavy machineries for construction of Imphal-Kangchup-Tamenglong Road or the presence of predatory bird such as large Hawk in the bamboo bract in Bhalok village.

As such, the situation seemed not conducive to carry out mist-netting in Bhalok, so we selected Chiuluan village in the Barak River Catchment to carry out mist netting and tagging with SRT to few Amur falcons. Dr Suresh Kumar was in constant touch with our Division and he instructed from time to time.

Besides, the “4th Amur Falcon Festival” was also scheduled on 5th November 2018. Thus the Officials of Tamenglong Forest Division had very tight and hectic schedule. But thank God, we could happily and confidently delegate much of our works for the festival to the Rainforest Club, Tamenglong.

Further the Division is very lucky to have close relation and support from two very good and eminent personalities - Dr. Chambo Gonmei, CMO, Tamenglong and Shri Nehemiah Panmei, Diector, TAMBAC & Honorary Wildlife Warden, Tamenglong who are the advisors of Rainforest Club Tamenglong.

The mission started on 3rd November. The team left Forest IB for the roosting site in Chiuluan at about 2 p.m. and reached Barak River Bank at around 5 p.m.

We surveyed the roosting site for making the strip of 3 m X 15 m to erect the canopy mist net early next morning. On 4th November with the help of dedicated local volunteers from the Chiuluan village, we prepared the strip cutting through Moubi bamboo bract for putting up the net which we could ready by 4 p.m. We returned to our camp site and waited for 3 hours.

Then at around 7 p.m., we went to see for any captured Amur falcon. Very luckily the net had five Amur falcons and we successfully took them out without harming the body and feathers and put in Paper boxes.

These birds were brought back to our camp site and kept there for the night. Early in the morning of 5th November 2018, the biometric of the all the five birds were taken and CH01, a female and CH03, a Male Amur falcon were chosen for putting the Satellite Radio Transmitters as they were the most healthy birds among the caught birds and met the necessary technical requirements to do so.

After hours of dedication by the experts, the tagging was finally done. The two Amur falcons CH01, a female with Tag No.43215 and CH03, a Male withTag No.43213 were christened as “Tamenglong” and “Manipur” with due permission from Government of Manipur through Chief Wildlife Warden, Government of Manipur.

The Scientists insisted for immediate release of the SRT tagged birds at captured area itself, for scientific reasons. After careful considerations and discussions, we decided to release “Tamenglong” near the Bank of Barak River along with the other three untagged birds.

But for making huge impact on awareness for conserving Amur falcon far and wide, the team felt it would be very fruitful to release one “Manipur” by the Chief Guest of the “4th Amur Falcon Festival” somewhere a little up in the Khongjaron Village. Unfortunately, despite having all three vehicles with 4 x 4 special gears, we couldn’t come up on time.

Because of a very heavy rainfall the previous night, the steep slope roads laden with thick mud made the vehicles hard to climb up. As much time had elapsed already, the experts felt necessary to release the bird there itself as keeping the bird for long in the box could compromise its overall health.

Thus “Manipur” was also released somewhere midway to Chiuluan village in presence of the Chairman of the Village. By the Grace of God all the members of the Research team could join the “4th Amur Falcon Festival” held at Unity Stadium Tamenglong even though we all had a very tiring schedule at Chiuluan.

(This article is intended for creation of awareness and in academic interest. The views expressed are writer’s own and these views are not necessarily of that of Forest Department, Government of Manipur.)

To be continued....

* Kh Hitler Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on 04 August, 2019 .

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