Indian conservationist from Nagaland awarded for changing fate of the Amur Falcon
Indian conservationist Nuklu Phom has been awarded the prestigious Whitley Award, worth £40,000, for creating a new network of community-owned forests to protect the Amur Falcons, increasing the biodiversity in the state of Nagaland.
The Whitley Awards are presented annually to individuals from the Global South by UK-based charity, the Whitley Fund for Nature.
Nuklu is one of six conservationists to be recognised in 2021 for his commitment to conserving some of the planet’s most endangered species and spectacular natural habitats.
Nagaland, part of the Indo-Burma Hotspot, is home to the Naga: Tibeto-Burman people who share their mountainous, forested state with a rich diversity of wildlife. Communities have historically hunted wild animals for food and medicine, but in the last few decades a surge in unemployment, unsustainable management and shifting cultural priorities have put pressure on natural resources.
Whitley Award winner, Nuklu Phom, said, “For me, the Amur Falcon represents a free world without borders, they don’t just roost in our forests during their annual migration, but they travel across continents. Through their migration, they bring together different communities, tribes, languages, policy makers, scientists and nations. The Whitley Award will be a life-changing and transforming honour and I am so grateful to receive it.”
Amur Falcons are the world’s largest migrating raptors. After breeding in southeastern Siberia and northern China, they migrate in their millions across India, then spend five weeks roosting at sites in Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Their arrival coincides with the emergence of flying termites and the falcons act as important bio-control agents, feeding on the insects that would otherwise destroy crops. The raptors’ 22,000-kilometre migratory route is one of the longest amongst all avian species.
During a virtual celebration on May 12, Sir David Attenborough WFN Trustee, said, “Whitley Award winners are local environmental heroes, harnessing the best available science and leading projects with passion. I admire their courage, their commitment, and their ability to affect change. There are few jobs more important.”
(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)
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