Over 30 flamingos killed after being hit on flight landing path in Mumbai

Forest department officials are surprised as such an incident hasn’t occurred in the past.

Updated - May 21, 2024 10:55 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2024 06:02 pm IST - Mumbai

Workers remove the carcasses of flamingos after a flight from Dubai to Mumbai struck a flock of flamingos in Mumbai on May 20, 2024.

Workers remove the carcasses of flamingos after a flight from Dubai to Mumbai struck a flock of flamingos in Mumbai on May 20, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Over 30 flamingos were found dead at Ghatkopar area in Mumbai after being hit by an oncoming flight on Monday night. This is the first time that a bird hit case involving such a large flock of birds has occurred around Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.

The bird hit occurred a little before 8.40 p.m. on Monday, as the Emirates Dubai–Mumbai (EK 508) flight landed safely. However, the return journey to Dubai has been rescheduled by a day owing to a full-scale inspection that the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft required as per the safety mandates.

The Maharashtra Forest Department has launched an investigation. Carcasses as well as samples have been collected from the site where the migratory birds fell after being hit. The Emirates pilot’s statement is also likely to be taken.

“So far over 30 flamingo bodies have been retrieved,” said Stalin Dayanand, conservationist and director of Vanashakti, an NGO.

Investigation on

Factors such as flight altitude and deviation from landing funnel path are being studied to investigate what caused the incident.

Forest Department officials said they were surprised as such an incident has not occurred in the past. They said the migratory birds must have been flying towards the flamingo sanctuary in Thane and got hit by the oncoming aircraft.

However, conservationists have a different take. According to Mr. Dayanand, one theory is that the new power lines through the sanctuary area is causing disorientation to the birds.

The second theory is that disturbances were caused to the birds at the wetlands in Navi Mumbai. He alleged that some people must have chased the birds out in the night causing them to attempt to fly towards Thane Creek and meeting with the accident in the process.

Wetland protection

“We had cited the example of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary which did not have any bird hits in our case arguments before Principal Secretary Urban Development, two weeks ago. This was the case for protection of Panje wetlands. The government kept saying that all water bodies need to be eliminated to make the Navi Mumbai Airport that is under construction safe. Two weeks later this accident happened. Coincidence? Let us wait for more details to come out,” Mr. Dayanand said.

The greater and lesser flamingos migrate from Siberia to Mumbai via the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Between November and May, they make the wetlands and mudflats on Mumbai’s eastern coast their home and feed on algae and small organisms.

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