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Drive to ready falcon haunt for tourists

Jorhat, May 13: The Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency has joined hands with Natural Nagas, a society working to promote preservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Nagaland, for conservation of Amur falcons, the migratory raptors which visit the state annually in October-November and transforming their roosting site into a tourist hub.

The agency has not only started working on a project to install a watchtower near the roosting site of the Amur falcons at Doyang in Wokha district but has also been training local villagers to reap benefits of the anticipated growth in tourist interest.

The initiative has been taken by Natural Nagas, which aims to transform the annual roosting site of Amur falcons into a major tourist hub and protect the birds.

Steve Odyuo, founder of Natural Nagas, told The Telegraph today that the watchtower has been constructed with chemically treated bamboo and has been installed in a place that overlooks the roosting site of the falcons.

The tower would be handed over to the villagers, near the roosting site, who would help tourists in watching the birds. The villagers would also act as guides, he said.

Odyuo said some print material about Amur falcons, binoculars and other items would be kept in the watchtower for the tourists.

He said villagers near the roosting site have been trained by experts from the agency to make showpieces and other items from chemically treated bamboo. They could also earn a livelihood by selling these products to the tourists, he said.

He said with the wide publicity about successful conservation of Amur falcons last year, Nagaland is expecting a large number of tourists this year, starting October.

We also have plans to start a small snack bar near the watchtower which would be run by the villagers, he said.

Echoing Odyuo, a forest official in Nagaland said the state is expecting a large turnout of tourists during the roosting period of Amur falcons this year.

“The credit goes to the villagers of Wokha who have done a commendable job in protecting the migratory birds last year,” he said.

He said that the government also plans to start several eco-tourism projects near the roosting site of the Amur falcons to keep the villagers engaged.

Till a few years ago, Doyan roosting site was dubbed the killing fields of Amur falcons, which were killed in large numbers by the villagers. However, after initiatives taken by the forest department and a few NGOs, not a single bird was killed last year.

Three birds were also fitted with satellite tracking devices at Doyang last year. While one bird, named Naga, has already returned from South Africa and is currently in Mongolia, the other two, Wokha and Pangti, are on their return journey.

Wokha was spotted in Madhya Pradesh today and Pangti is still in South Africa.


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