2 May 2020.
The magic and beauty of the congregation of flamingos in and around the financial capital of the country is painting the city pink during the lockdown.
Observations of BNHS:
- The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), estimated that the numbers of flamingos in MMR are 25% more than last year.
- During January, numbers were as low as 33,334 individuals across MMR, but by the end of February it increased to 1 lakh.
- BNHS estimated that current numbers surpassed 1.5 lakh in the first week of April. In 2019, the highest flamingo count was recorded at 1.21 lakhs
- Researchers at BNHS used grid technique or blocking — a counting technique -by dividing photographs (mapping a large area) into grids .It is used when single species of birds are in large numbers and stationary.
- An accurate count will be taken once the lockdown is called off.
- BNHS had already predicted the delayed arrival of flamingos in 2020 when numbers were very low in January.
Reasons for the influx:
According to Deepak Apte, director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a combination of four factors have led to the ongoing congregation of flamingos around the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
- Successful Breeding:
This spike is attributed to the successful breeding of flamingos that was documented back in 2018, which has resulted in large flocks of juveniles visiting the sites this year.
- Destruction of habitats around Mumbai
Secondly, a combination of developmental activities across several areas of Mumbai’s eastern seafront, and the destruction of wetlands in and around the city, has rendered Navi Mumbai as one of the few remaining locations for these birds to migrate to. Therefore, scenes of flamingos forming an endless sea of pink in these areas is partly a result of the birds getting squeezed into the smaller, still-intact pockets in the Mumbai Metropolitan Area.
- The lockdown itself
Even the ongoing lockdown has also made a notable impact in ensuring these birds are left undisturbed while they roost, attempt to obtain food, and thrive in an overall encouraging habitat.
- Delayed arrival
According to BNHS, flamingos start migrating from the Gujarat region, their breeding area, after the conclusion of monsoon, when water-filled regions in the state start drying up. The birds then fly southwards to visit the MMR wetlands—the second-largest flamingo habitat along the west coast of India after Kutch, Gujarat—from November to May, primarily for feeding purposes. Abundant availability of water through last year’s winter, flamingos’ arrival to Mumbai was delayed in 2020, and now, incidentally coinciding with the ongoing lockdown.
- BNHS highlights the need to protect this bird species and conserving the wetlands they inhabit something that can be achieved by declaring these areas as flamingo sanctuaries specially the Seawood area.
- Flamingos are large birds that are identifiable by their long necks, sticklike legs and pink or reddish feathers. Flamingos embody the saying “you are what you eat.” The pink and reddish colours of a flamingo’s feathers come from eating pigments found in algae and invertebrates.
- Flamingos are water birds, so they live in and around lagoons or lakes. These bodies of water tend to be saline or alkaline. Flamingos are generally non- migratory, but changes in climate or water levels in their breeding areas will cause them to relocate.
- IUCN Status: Least Concern.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a pan-India wildlife research organization, has been promoting the cause of nature conservation since 1883.
BNHS Mission: Conservation of nature, primarily biological diversity through action based on research, education and public awareness
BNHS Vision: Premier independent scientific organization with a broad based constituency, excelling in the conservation of threatened species and habitats.