Tracking the Incredible Journey of the Amur Falcon

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Of the 69 species of raptors known from India, Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) was one of the least talked about species till recently. Primarily recorded from northeast India, with a few scattered sight records in peninsular India, the species is generally considered rare. All that changed following a report by Conservation India in October 2012 of the massive large scale harvest of these falcons in Nagaland. Researchers estimated that between 120,000 and 140,000 individuals were being trapped and killed for … Read More

Another Amur Falcon Migratory Season Begins

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The first Amur Falcons have started arriving in the Northeast, and in Nagaland. The local communities in various parts of the state have been eagerly awaiting the birds in the last couple of years — to welcome them as honoured guests, and to provide them with safe passage.

For the last two years, the Amur Falcon conservation efforts in Pangti and Sungro villages in Wokha district of Nagaland have passed off successfully in a remarkable conservation turnaround. In 2013 and … Read More

Villager Cooking Langur, Wunstubong, E Nagaland

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As part of a state-wide biodiversity survey in May-June 2011, Shashank Dalvi and Anup BP (post-graduate students of M.Sc wildlife biology and conservation, WCS-India & NCBS) encountered this scene in Wunstubong, E Nagaland. Led by a child who was seen holding a langur (likely Capped) tail, the students saw a woman cook the entire langur for dinner. Nagaland has lost almost all of its wildlife in similar fashion thanks to large-scale traditional hunting practices coupled with poor enforcement of wildlife … Read More

Leaf Deer, Nagaland

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Leaf Deer, Leaf Muntjac or Putao muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis) is not very well known in India. In a biodiversity survey in Thanamir (base of Mt. Saramati, 3840 m), Eastern Nagaland (May 2011), post-graduate students of M.Sc wildlife biology and conservation, WCS-India & NCBS, Bangalore discovered the presence of skulls of this deer. Subsequent genetic testing on skin samples corroborated the finding. This finding is very significant as it will enhance the deer’s geographical range by 1.5 times. 

The … Read More

Hunter’s Bag, Zuneheboto, Nagaland

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Staring idly out of the window as we made our way along the winding, dust-covered roads of Nagaland’s picturesque green hills, we were suddenly snapped out of our reverie by the sight of two young boys dangling a collection of squirrels and birds including a slender, black and white badger-like creature. We could buy the whole bunch for just Rs. 800 we were told, and the boys proudly posed for a picture with their wares. The badger and birds were … Read More

Rescued Great Barbet, Doyang, Nagaland

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This fledgling Great Barbet (Megalaima virens) was rescued from a hunter by an educator who works with the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) in Doyang, Nagaland. It was just a chick when it was rescued and is currently being nursed to adulthood so it can be released in the wild. In Nagaland, such incidents of rescue are very rare.

The merciless, uncontrolled, rampant, widespread and all-year round hunting in Nagaland of almost all life-forms will, in … Read More

Naga Wren-Babbler, Nagaland

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Here is an image of the Naga Wren-Babbler or Long-tailed Wren-Babbler (Spelaeornis chocolatinus) which I photographed in Nagaland in Jan 2014.

This species is Near Threatened and dwells in montane broadleaf forest with thick undergrowth of Nagaland and North Manipur, in NE India. A very active species, usually foraging close to the ground, but not as exclusively ground-dwelling like the Pnoepyga Wren-Babblers.

Originally described as “Pnoepyga chocolatina” by Godwin-Austen and Walden in Ibis p.252, 1875, from Kedimai, Manipur, … Read More

Amur Falcon campaign update — Another migration season begins!

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Campaign Update 30th October 2013

Great news! The peak migration of Amur Falcons is on, and there have been absolutely no killings reported so far! This remarkable outcome has been the result of a full year of painstaking effort from the Nagaland government (especially the forest department), NGO groups, and most importantly, the local communities who were determined to end the killings.

Amur Falcon Shooting Incident, Nagaland

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On the 6th of May 2013, Rajneesh Suvarna, Jitendra Bhatia, Suja Rangaswamy and myself were on the way back from Pungro in Eastern Nagaland to Kohima. We had been in Nagaland for 6 days and had noticed that guns were common and hunting accepted as a way of life. The few local Nagas we met were surprised that we had come all the way to watch birds, and indeed were skeptical that we would have seen any. Our birding experience … Read More

Trapped Slow Loris for Sale, Nagaland

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I visited Nagaland for a butterfly and moth survey from 6 to 14 April 2013.

While on the Dimapur – Kohima highway, just before Zubza, there were 3 people on the road holding a long bamboo pole with an animal tied at the end of the pole. We stopped to see what it was and we were shocked to see a Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) tied with a string trap. We asked him what he was doing with it. He … Read More

Joy as migratory Amur Falcon reaches its wintering grounds again in South Africa

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Raptor enthusiasts across the world were overjoyed and relieved to learn that a migratory adult female Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) finally reached her wintering grounds at Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal again on the 10th of January 2013 after an eventful 14,500km journey from the species’ breeding grounds in north-eastern China which started in mid-October last year.

This bird was fitted by Prof. Bernd Meyburg of WWGBP, the World Working Group on Birds of Prey, with a solar-powered satellite transmitter … Read More

Captive Slow Loris, Mokakchong, Nagaland

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A statewide Nagaland biodiversity survey was conducted by students and alumni of NCBS, Bangalore, in May-June 2011. Across sites, the teams found wild animals kept by villagers – some as pets, others for eventual consumption. These included rare mammals like Leopard Cats, Slow Loris and Stump-tailed Macaques as well as several bird species. While the team physically didn’t observe any, keeping (Blyth’s) Tragopans as pets also seemed to be a widespread hobby and a delicacy reserved for VIPs.

This Slow … Read More

A Dead Blue Pitta

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The Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) is a very rare bird in India. There have been no recent reports (and certainly no photographs) from India. Pam Rasmussen (Birds of South Asia) lists it for the South Assam Hills (North Cachar, Tripura and an old specimen from Garo Hills).

This image of a dead Blue Pitta featured in the brilliant award-winning documentary called “The Wild Meat Trail” directed by Rita Banerji and Shilpi Sharma (Dusty Foot Productions) on sale in … Read More

Rare Bird — Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush, Nagaland

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The Spot-breasted Laughing Thrush Garrulax merulinus is found in several South-east Asian countries. It is well known amongst birders for its beautiful vocalisations and extremely skulky nature. The bird is seldom seen and is known from India by very few, scanty records. The last time this bird was collected from the Indian sub-continent was in 1952. In 2007 Tanmoy Ghosh recorded this species from Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh where he photographed a dead bird killed by locals. Following this, … Read More

An Injured Stump-tailed Macaque Infant, Dzulekie, Nagaland

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In a recently concluded Nagaland Biodiversity Survey, team members Dipti Humraskar and Swapna Reddy found this injured stump-tailed macaque infant with a village girl (in a nepali settlement 15kms from Dzulekie). A boy, aged approximately 14 years, who caught the infant claimed that he saw a troupe of about 20 macaques near his house. He aimed at the troupe with his catapult. The infant somehow fell down or was mistakenly dropped by the mother while escaping and was captured by … Read More

Wild Dogs (Dhole) spotted in Pungro, Eastern Nagaland

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In a rare sighting, birdwatchers Atul Jain, Manoj Sharma and Harkirat Sanga spotted a pack of 6 Dhole or Indian wild dogs (Cuon alpinus) near Pungro town in Eastern Nagaland not far from the Myanmar border. The pack had four pups and two adults. Not suprisingly, the pack appeared to be scared as it was being chased by a local villager trying to hunt it down unsuccessfully with a stone. Not much is known about wild dogs from … Read More

A ‘Real’ Great Hornbill Mount, Nagaland

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This image taken at the annual 2010 Hornbill Festival in Nagaland shows real (top) and fake hornbill mounts being sold. According to the photographer, there were at least half a dozen real heads on display in addition to hornbill tail feathers. The govt. of Nagaland has been attempting to move various tribes from using real hornbill body parts (head, casque and feathers) as part of their costumes and handicrafts — with mixed results.… Read More

Dead Great Barbets For Sale In Nagaland

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Hunting birds in Nagaland is rampant and is totally accepted as part of daily life. Here, four dead barbets (for Rs. 600) hang in a roadside hotel between Dimapur and Kohima. Tribals hunt for the pot as well as for commercial reasons (like in this case). In the last couple of years, campaigns by the government of Nagaland has reduced incidence of bush meat found in markets.… Read More

First record of the “Bella” Ratsnake for India from Fakim WLS, Nagaland

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As part of a Nagaland bird survey, explorers Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan stumbled upon this beautiful snake close to Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary above Pungro town in Eastern Nagaland close to the Myanmar border. It turned out to be new species for India — “Bella” Rat Snake (Maculophis bella bella). Bella means beautiful in Italian.

This small snake (2½-3 feet, 80-90 cm in length) appears to be a montane species found in higher elevations like 1500 – 2000m. … Read More

Three Rare Laughing Thrushes Recorded in Eastern Nagaland

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Bird enthusiasts Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan made a 4-day visit to the Fakim / Saramati areas of Nagaland between 18-22 May 2010 near the Myanmar border. They were thrilled to sight, photograph and sound record three poorly known laughing thrushes. Some quick notes on these birds:

  • Moustached [Ashy] Laughing Thrush— What was interesting about the Ashy was its atypical laughing thrush behavior. It preferred pine branches in addition to the usual thick undergrowth in the degraded slopes.
  • Spot-breasted
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