Mumbai gets a flamingo sanctuary

The Thane creek has been attracting flamingos inlarge numbers since 1994. Photo: Special Arrangement  

A flamingo sanctuary in a bustling metropolis. Mumbai is setting another record after being home to a national park for decades. If the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is right in the heart of the city, the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, which came into being on Friday, is on its periphery.

On Thursday, the Maharashtra Revenue and Forest Department notified the northern part of the creek as a wildlife sanctuary under Section 18 of the Wildlife (Protection Act), 1972.

The sanctuary will be the State’s second marine sanctuary after the one at Malvan. The 1,690-hectare bird haven — 896 hectares of mangrove forests and 794 hectares of a waterbody — is on the western bank of the creek, between the Airoli and the Vashi bridges connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Its eco-sensitive zone will be the adjoining mangrove areas on either side of the creek, which are already notified as reserve forests.

“Declaration of the sanctuary, located right in the middle of a mega city, is a very significant step for the conservation of this unique natural environment with its eclectic mix of mangroves, mudflats and threatened species of birds,” N. Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangroves Cell, said. The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit of the Mangrove Cell of the Forest Department will manage the sanctuary.

The cell has initiated baseline studies and a rapid biodiversity assessment of the sanctuary area with assistance from an Indo-German project on conservation and sustainable management of marine protected areas. “These studies would, in turn, help in the preparation of a scientific management plan for the sanctuary and its sustainable management. The ecosystem will be closely monitored and shielded from serious threats such as discharge of effluents, dumping of sewage and other biotic interferences,” Mr. Vasudevan said.

The creek has been attracting flamingos in large numbers since 1994. By November every year, over 30,000 of these birds, along with their chicks, descend here and occupy the mudflats and the bordering mangroves. They stay here till May, after which most of them migrate to Bhuj in Gujarat for breeding, leaving a small resident population. A large number of waders are also spotted along with them.

Besides supporting a large congregation of flamingos, the area is a refuge for many resident and migratory birds. In all, 200 species have been reported, even globally threatened species such as the greater spotted eagle and others. such as osprey.

Pied avocet, western reef heron, black-headed ibis, common redshank, marsh sandpiper, common greenshank, curlew sandpiper, brown-headed gull, whiskered, gull-billed, Caspian and little terns, white-bellied sea eagle and Eurasian marsh harrier have been spotted. BirdLife International has declared the creek an important bird area.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 9:26:35 AM |

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