The highest number of greater flamingos or pink winged guests flocked in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in 2022 since monitoring began. Between December 2021 and March 2022, the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) witnessed 54,000 greater flamingos while 17,000 in Sewri and 277 in Nhava. Juvenile (5%) and sub adult (21% proportions were lower than those of adults across the three regions).
Approximately, 133,000 flamingos were observed this year (during April) across the TCFS, Sewri, Nhava and adjacent zones against 1,03,000 in 2020-21 (during February), 96,400 during 2019-20 (February) and 1,20,000 during 2018-19 (March). A pan India wildlife research organization Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) which is conducting flamingo surveys since 2017 as a part of a decadal survey project up to 2027. BNHS’ annual flamingo monitoring exercise was undertaken this year in March-April for the first time since 2018 owing to successive lockdowns due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Researchers also documented a unique mating ritual for flamingos across wetland patches as tourists beat the heat to catch the glimpse of the dance in pink.
Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray in a tweet said, ‘’Highest count since counting began.’’
BNHS deputy director Rahul Khot said, ‘’Greater flamingos prefer freshwater and estuary environments, which Mumbai offers in plenty thanks to its creeks and inland wetlands. Also, the sort of food they might be getting here may make this ecosystem more appealing to them. These birds are filter feeders mainly feeding on algae and small crustaceans which are responsible for their pink colouration.’’
‘’This is a sharp increase since previous years and especially last year (2020-21) when the greater flamingo abundance was the lowest (324-569) across all three regions and less than 2% of the population recorded in the preceding two years,’’ said the Maharashtra Forest Department and Mangrove Foundation in a joint statement.
On the other hand, the number of lesser flamingos from December 2021 to March 2022 has been 65,000 at TCFS, 25,000 at Sewri and 9,000 at Nhava. The population of this species has witnessed a marginal increase across all three locations this year, said BNHS.