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Pangti first to reach South Africa

- Amur falcons Naga and Wokha resume journey after resting in Kenya

Jorhat, Dec. 8: It has taken her over a month, but destination finally beckons Pangti while Wokha and Naga, who had made the starting line-up along with her, remain way behind.

The three Amur falcons fitted with satellite-tracking devices and their respective groups had left Nagaland early last month for South Africa. Pangti took wings on November 7 and has reached the southern African country of Botswana, while Naga and Wokha have started their onward journey to southern Africa only on Friday after spending time in the vicinity of Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

Naga, a male, and Wokha and Pangti, two females were named after Nagaland, Wokha district and Pangti village and were fitted with the satellite devices on November 7 at Doyang in Wokha district of Nagaland, where these birds arrive during October-November every year.

“This is one of the biggest achievements as all three birds are about to reach their final destination and the best part is that all the three tracking devices are working fine,” principal chief conservator of forests Nagaland, M. Lokeswara Rao, told The Telegraph today.

The cost of each device is about Rs 7 lakh.

The website monitoring these birds said Pangti, which is still far ahead of the two others, had flown from Kenya through Tanzania and Zambia and has reached the southern part of Botswana. “Pangti is well awaited by ornithologists in South Africa,” scientists, monitoring the three birds from Hungary, have been quoted in the website.

The scientists were quoted in the website that Wokha who started late from Nagaland caught up with Naga and they both rested near Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

“They changed their roosting sites a bit from night to night, but the pace of their migration slowed down and had started their onward journey to Tanzania on Friday,” the scientists said.

Amur falcons, raptors with pigeon looks, are said to have one of the longest migratory routes in the bird kingdom, travelling upto 22,000km every year. These birds travel from Siberia to South Africa via India, where they rest for a few days at Wokha.

The birds keep coming in small groups from the first week of October till the end of November to Wokha with the ones coming early leaving first.

Another forest official in Nagaland, who is keeping a close watch on the three birds, said it was in 2010 that 10 Amur falcons were fitted with satellite-tracking devices in South Africa by a group of scientists led by Bern-Ulrich Meyburg of Germany.

However, only one bird returned to Newcastle in South Africa after completing the migration route. Most of these birds were believed to have died in the killing fields of Nagaland.

Ronchamo Shigiri, the chief of Pangti village in Nagaland who released the bird named after the village, said the villagers were eagerly awaiting the return of Pangti next year.

“We pray for the safe return of Pangti,” he said. He, however, appealed to the authorities to keep the promise of constructing a tourists’ rest house at Pangti village.

“We have kept the promise of not killing these birds this year, the authorities should also keep their promise,” he said. Unlike this year, a large number of Amur falcons were massacred in Nagaland last year.

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