To better protect its annual visitors, the Maharashtra government has declared the northern part of Thane Creek, which attracts thousands of flamingos, as a wildlife sanctuary.
Spread over an area of 1,690 hectares, which includes 896 hectares of mangroves and 794 hectares of land adjacent to a water body, the sanctuary has been named the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, and will be Maharashtra’s second marine sanctuary, after Malvan.
(Photo credit: Bachchan Kumar)
A notification for this, under section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, was issued by the revenue and forest department on Thursday.
Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told HT that considering the large population of flamingos that comes to this location every year, the site had to be safeguarded. “There are two objectives of declaring the northern half of Thane creek as a protected sanctuary, which had been neglected for some time – one being the protection of the habitat of migratory birds and the other to increase tourism here,” he said.
Mungantiwar said the forest department will receive a detailed report about the requirements for developing the sanctuary by the end of this month. “On the basis of the report, we will allot funds,” he said.
The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit, under the state mangrove cell, will be responsible for the management of the sanctuary. The protected area will mainly include the mangrove forests and wetlands of Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Mandale.
“Declaration of the Thane creek sanctuary, located right in the midst of a mega city, is a very significant step for the conservation of this unique natural environment with its mix of mangroves, mudflats and threatened species of birds,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, mangrove cell. “By mid-January, we will open up the area in a regulated manner for tourism and bird watching, without disturbing the ecosystem. A coastal marine biodiversity centre will also be inaugurated in January, which will act as the gateway to this creek,” he added.
Environmentalists said the decision should have been taken much earlier. “Albeit late, this decision is welcome and will help to conserve the rich wetland biodiversity of the area. This is the first serious initiative by the state to recognise the importance of coastal wetlands,” said Stalin D, project director, Vanashakti.