121,000 Flamingos ‘at home’ in Mumbai this year

IANS

Mumbai attracts around 121,000 flamingos, or the ‘pink beauties’ as they are fondly known here, according to the first-ever specific survey on these birds conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), that was released on Saturday.

These results emerged from the comprehensive survey comprising both the lesser flamingos whose numbers are on the ascent and the greater flamingos whose figures are declining, said BNHS Assistant Director and Principal Investigator Rahul Khot.

The flamingos are a much awaited and delightful sight in Mumbai as they migrate from Gujarat and Iran after monsoons and live here till the end of May every year.

These tall, majestic pink birds with thin long legs thrive on the marshy sea-fronts on both sides of the Thane Creek, from Sewri in eastern Mumbai to Thane, a distance of around 20 km (counting both banks of the creek), and are a veritable tourist attraction as well as a treat for bird-lovers.

“The 10-year study aims to analyse the feeding ecology and association of birds with Macro Benthic Fauna or the tiny organisms found in mudflats, impacts on anthropogenic activities and how the water pollution is affected the tiny organisms and the flamingos,” Khot told IANS.

BNHS Director Deepak Apte said it is encouraging to view such a large of flamingos arriving in Mumbai, underlining the importance of the critical habitats in around and the city and the necessity of long-term studies to understand the nature of migratory birds and chart future conservation plans.

Explaining the survey’s modus operandi, Khot said that on both sides of Thane Creek the researchers divided into one km transects, multiple teams in hand-rowed boats counted the lesser flamingos and greater flamingos for three consecutive days to get the most accurate figures since May 2018, after the monsoon break from October 2018 to January this year.

The flamingos’ figures increased and is currently peaking with over 100,000 birds living here simultaneously including semi-adults, he said.

The increased number of lesser flamingos could be due to inbound migration during the last month, though greater flamingos showed a decreasing trend since the past four months, according to Khot.

Apte said the heartwarming news also implies we need to be more responsible and sensitive while planning developmental activities in that region, clean up the highly polluted eastern seafront to provide a toxicity-free habit for flamingos and other migratory birds.

“This is indeed a significant development as India prepares to host the global UN Summit on Convention of Migratory Species next year (2020),” Apte noted with pride.

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