There’s grim news for bird lovers in the city. According to data compiled from the last seven editions of the annual Mumbai BirdRace, there has been a steady decline in the number of bird species sighted and nesting sites in and around Mumbai.
Between 2005 and 2011, the total number of bird species sighted across the region decreased from 277 to 248. The decline was most significant in Uran, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Borivli, and the Karnala Bird Sanctuary.
In Uran, in the last two years alone, large scale reclamation on wetlands and rapid infrastructure development seem to be responsible for a 40% decline in sightings – from 160 in 2009 to 121 in 2010, and 108 last year.
At SGNP, there has been a 35% drop in the diversity of bird species over the last seven years – from 108 in 2005 to 70 in 2011. Rapid urban expansion along the Karnala sanctuary could be the likely cause for the dip in bird sightings from 78 in 2005 to 56 last year, according to the study.
“Loss of wetlands, pollution from expanding urbanisation around forests, disturbance to forest tracts in the Mumbai region, paucity of bird-attracting flowering and fruiting trees and loss of breeding colonies are critical factors for the decline in the region’s avian diversity, both qualitatively as well as quantitatively,” said naturalist Sunjoy Monga.
The Mumbai BirdRace, inspired by the Hongkong BirdRace, is an annual event held every February. Bird lovers form teams to spot bird species in and around the city. The winning team is the one that records the maximum number of species. This year, the race will be held on February 26.