Thousands Of Flamingos Converge On Lake In ‘Unusually Large Numbers’
Hundreds of thousands of pink flamingos have gathered at a lake in Mumbai in unusually high numbers, with reduced human activity thought to be the reason behind it.
Footage captured from an apartment in Nerul overlooking the creek in Navi Mumbai shows a large number of the birds gathering on April 24, colouring the water pink.
While a large number of pink flamingos have migrated to Mumbai between the months of October and March every year since the 1980s, environmentalists have pointed out that the population seems to have increased significantly this year.
They believe that cleaner air and water – a knock-on effect from social distancing guidelines imposed around the world, which saw travel and industrial activity largely brought to a halt – has allowed more flamingos to make the journey.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has estimated that 150,000 flamingos made the migratory journey to Mumbai this year, an increase of 25% compared to last year. While environmentalists don’t have a definitive reason for this increase, they do believe that reduced human activity may have led to more favourable conditions for foraging.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, the director of BNHS, Deepak Apte, said that while one ‘major reason’ for the large numbers seen could be because of the successful breeding of flamingos documented two years ago, the imposed lockdown in India also plays an important part.
Areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region such as Thane Creek and the Talawe wetlands (which includes the lake in Navi Mumbai) usually see a lot of construction work, fishing activities and visitors.
However, the city’s lockdown – which has been in place since March 25 – ‘is giving these birds peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food, and overall encouraging habitat’, Apte explained.
Additionally, wetland destruction and developmental activities across several areas of Mumbai’s seafront are pushing flamingos away from their usual locations and into ‘smaller pockets like in Navi Mumbai’.
Various areas along the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary were also witnessing large congregations as a result of fishing activities currently being on hold.
A spokesperson for the sanctuary, Nathuram Kokare, said residents in the nearby area are seeing an unusually large number of flamingos because of ‘less polluted water and air’ and an ‘improvement in the quality of the algae’ – the birds’ primary food.
Flamingos are considered iconic in Mumbai, with the birds usually arriving in the city between October and March from Kutch in Gujarat and Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan – sometimes even as far away as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel. They then fly out in June.
Environmentalists hope the lockdown will ‘prompt people to focus on what is around them, which they had been taking for granted’, with Rahul Khot, the assistant director at BNHS, telling the Hindustan Times he hopes the site ‘will be declared a flamingo sanctuary soon’.
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