More than 130,000 flamingoes visited Thane creek this year: Dept
In 2018-19, 1.20 lakh flamingoes were found in the creek, while 96,400 were found in 2019-20. However, due to Covid, counting could not be conducted in 2020 and 2021.
The Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary Range Forest Department has claimed that more than 1.30 lakh flamingoes have visited Thane creek this year, the highest number in the last five years.
It is as per the report submitted to them by The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a pan-India wildlife research organisation.
BNHS researches on the biodiversity in the creek, tags the birds and reports the details to the mangrove cell, which is a part of the forest department. “Around seven to eight teams are deployed to take the count of the birds. The teams are given different areas of the creek and the counting is done at the same time so that there is no overlapping. The counting is repeated on another day as well by a completely different team, to understand if there was any over counting or under counting. There should not be much difference in both the counts. So, every month we do the counting twice,” said Mrugank Prabhu, scientist, migratory birds, BNHS.
Gujarat is the breeding ground for the flamingoes and since 1994, these birds started visiting Thane creek before going further to south. “There are Lesser Flamingoes as well as Greater Flamingoes found here. The Lesser Flamingo comes from Gujarat while the origin of the Greater Flamingo is still being studied through various ways. In the initial years, the birds found were only from 7,000 to 8,000. Eventually, it started increasing due to the availability of food and protection from humans. Their main food is blue and green algae and microscopic insects that are available here,” Rahul Khot, deputy director, head of migratory bird’s studies, BNHS, said.
In 2018-19, 1.20 lakh flamingoes were found while it was 96,400 in 2019-20. “Due to Covid, we were unable to conduct counting in March-April 2020 and 2021 due to which the numbers in those years are low,” Khot said.
In 2020-21, 1.02 lakh were sighted while in 2021-22, 1.33 lakh have been sighted. The peak season for sighting flamingoes is in February-March while the survey is done from September to May.
Flamingo sanctuary earns ₹38L from boating
The boating at the Airoli Flamingo Sanctuary was resumed in November 2021 after the pandemic. It was again shut for a month in December because of the third wave. After it was restarted again in January, the department has earned ₹38 lakh revenue this year from boating in the sanctuary.
On an average every year during the season from November to May, the sanctuary earns an income of around ₹50 lakh. “Close to 7,000 people visited the sanctuary this year while more than 8,000 visited the information centre. We have permission to run boating only from November to May. We currently have two boats while one electric boat has been proposed,” Range Forest Officer NG Kokare, Flamingo Sanctuary of Thane creek, said.
Currently there are two to three rides per day depending on the high tide timings. Each ride is done for one hour. The forest department has also proposed a floating jetty 200m away from the current jetty which will be joined together after which the rides will increase up to four or five, said Kokare.