BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 48

feature PREVENTING EXTINCTIONS From Slaughter to Spectacle Five years ago, hundreds of thousands of migrating Amur Falcons were being slaughtered annually in northeast India. Today, they are celebrated Alex Dale A mur Falcons Falco amurensis are incredible long-distance migrants. During their travels from their breeding grounds in north-east Asia, hundreds of thousands of them cross the Indian Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean to their wintering grounds in southern Africa. However, in November 2012, an estimated 100,000 falcons didn’t make it past Nagaland, a state in north-east India. They were trapped, slaughtered or taken to local markets alive and sold as fresh food. The shocking news spread quickly across the world thanks to a video put together by the campaigning organisation Conservation India. The video showed how local hunters were using huge nylon nets across the Amur Falcon’s forest roosting sites, capturing them indiscriminately in enormous quantities. The appalling scale of the killing prompted the Bombay Natural History 48 Amur Falcon Falco Amurensis Photo Thangam Velusamy / Shutterstock 0 the falcons were trapped, slaughtered or taken to local markets alive and sold as fresh food Society (BirdLife in India) to contact the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests and the Chief Minister of Nagaland. Simultaneously, BirdLife set up an emergency fund to help BNHS coordinate a series of actions in order to halt the massacre. Many BirdLife Partners such as BirdLife South Africa and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) also lent their voice to the campaign and received international support. The then-Minister for the Environment Jayanthi Natarajan personally intervened, which led to the destruction of nets and to the release of some of the captive falcons that were still alive. The tragedy was stopped that year, but BNHS needed to put steps in place to ensure that future crises would be prevented. Supported by the emergency appeal, BNHS coordinated a widespread programme of action, birdlife • Jan-Mar 2018