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Up until this year, an estimated 120,000 – 140,000 Amur falcons (Falco amurensis) were being slaughtered in a remote part of north-eastern India at this exact time each year. The stunning scene at the Doyang reservoir in Wokha district of Nagaland where the falcons congragate in their hundreds of thousands. The amazing Amur falcons undertake the longest regular overwater passage of any raptor, crossing over the Indian Ocean between W India and tropical E Africa – a journey of more than 4,000 km that also includes nocturnal flight. Amur falcons in their thousands form the world’s largest aggregation of a single species of raptor near the Doyang reservoir in Wokha district of Nagaland. This accumulation of Amur falcons is the largest aggregation of these falcons along their vast migration route from Siberia through this gap in the Himalayas all the way to Somalia, Kenya and eventually South Africa. Ramki Sreenivasan, wildlife photographer and co-founder of Conservation India, describes Amur falcon swarm: “(This is) a spectacle that can only been seen to be believed! Amur falcons roosting for a few weeks in Nagaland as they migrate to Africa for the summer down there.
Amur falcons are eagerly anticipated in South Africa and their arrival is always celebrated. A swift reaction by Conservation India publicised the shocking harvest of thousands of migrating Amur falcons and mobilised conservation action by local government and communities, as well as local and international NGOs, researchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Government of Nagaland, forest department, district administration, local NGOs and police set up regular ground patrols at the roost where they were targeted, as well as checks at local markets.
This conservation success would have been impossible without open access to information, empowering scientists, conservationists and the media to act as catalysts for positive change. Having just witnessed this natural phenomenon, Neiphiu Rio, the Chief Minister of Nagaland, joined the public outcry stating that: “The state government is committed to end the unfortunate killings of the migratory Amur Falcons in Nagaland while they are passing through the state. District administration, local NGOs and police conductedground patrols and monitored local markets.
Shashank Dalvi of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS – India), Bangalore, is leading a survey team of volunteers across locations in North-East India where the falcons have been seen in the past, recording their numbers, routes, and roosts, as well as potential hunting pressures. The success of the NWBCT’s initiative was the development of a teaching manual for Amur falcon conservation. On November 7th, three Amur falcons were satellite-tagged with 5g transmitters in Nagaland as part of a collaboration between scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Convention on Migratory Species, United Nations Environment Programme, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, and the Nagaland Forest Department.
M Lokeswara Rao, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Nagaland explains excitedly: “The bird of prey visits Nagaland, probably before taking a giant leap across the Indian Ocean. Amur falcons were first satellite tracked along their migration route from Newcastle (South Africa) back to Mongolia in 2010.
Amur falcons arrive in their S African winter range in November or December and depart by early May, dispersing to feed mainly of insects, such as termites.

This decade we will see a movement towards the establishment of a global network of conservationists, environmentalists and researchers that identify problems and coordinate swift, well-coordinated conservation actions. Congrats to all the amazing activists and organizations that have worked so hard on this important issue! Congratulations to the community of Nagaland and many thanks to Ramki and Shashank for their ardent efforts and all who helped avoid the massacre and saved so many lives. I am really happy to know that the captivation and slaughter of the Amur Falcons have come to an end, Cheers to National Geography. Fabulous article and research – This is a natural wonder and should be conserved aggressively. About This BlogEvery hour of every day, somewhere on Earth, National Geographic explorers are at work trying to uncover, understand, or help care for some small part of the world around us. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work. In 2012, Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan documented this shocking massacre as tens of thousands of migrating falcons congregate along the banks of the Doyang reservoir in Wokha district of Nagaland. They cover this 22,000 kilometres round trip every year, undertaking the longest sea crossing of any raptor twice a year during their 4,000 km crossing of the Indian Ocean between Africa and India.
Several research projects have tracked their epic migration to Siberia, Mongolia and China each year. The church in Pangti village even conducted special services on Sundays to spread the conservation message.
Academics and conservationists like Ramki, Shashank and Krithi Karanth are able to influence policy and coordinate a response to a threat, but need the support of the general public and local communities. It is our duty to protect the Amur Falcons and, in true Naga tradition of hospitality, treat them as honoured and esteemed guests”. They held an intensive 4-day ‘Under the Canopy’ programme that trained around 20 teachers about how amazing the falcon migration really was. By the 14th, a week alter, two were over the Arabian Sea on a non-stop trans-oceanic flight and the third was over the Bay of Bengal!
The raptor spends its day in search of food and settles on trees for roosting during the night.
Social and digital media have revolutionised the way in which people share and consume information, learning about the world through the eyes of our friends and colleagues. I hope that the conservation efforts will be sustained and replicated in other parts of the world. This is the most we make out our digital era, without it we couldn’t have completed so early.

This amazing transoceanic flight can takes weeks and includes many long nights flying and navigating in the dark.
These teachers, have created and today run four EcoClubs in Sungro, Pangti and Doyang, where children are taught about these extraordinary falcons. Bernd-Ulrich Meyburg, the Chair of the World Working Group on Birds of Prey, and his team satellite-tagged 10 Amur falcons in South Africa as part of a ground-breaking attempt to track their epic migration. They were shot or captured en masse, plucked, often skewered, and most of the time smoked before distribution to market.
We are seeing the establishment of massive social media networks linked to brands and celebrities, all with the power to influence the actions of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Cheers to Bano Haralu, Ramki Sreenivasan, Shashank Dalvi et al fo your passion and dedication about conservation! Social media and the rapidly-growing online community in developing countries is changing the way we coordinate, fund and execute conservation actions. The children make up songs, learn about conservation, and take this information home to their families.
A bird that weighs about 150g has enough strength, stamina and bodily reserves to fly more than half way around the world.
Always being informed by science and peer-review guarantees long-term sustainability and support.
In time people will travel to Nagaland to see this spectacle (particularly when the population recovers. This is an achievement for life itself and should be celebrated wherever it is encountered. A 150g raptor was able to across the world in 5 days, teaching us that we are one global community. These new conservationists also need to be empowered by the media and have access to established social networks. This will provide jobs, promote the region and hopefully provide investment for the future for humans and birds. It is a wonderful fact that there are other species that consider the entire planet to be their natural habitat.
We are entering a time of necessary action if we are to save the grand birdlife of this blue-and-green planet.

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