The number of greater flamingos has been recorded as the highest in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in 2021-22, since the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) started annual flamingo monitoring exercises in 2018. According to IE, nearly 54,000 greater flamingos were observed at the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) between December 2021 and March 2022, as compared to 25,000 in 2019.
“The first time that a large number of greater flamingos was observed, around 8,000 of them in the Sewai region, was in 1994 by a Mumbai Port Trust official. There has been no dedicated study since.” Rahul Khot, deputy director, BNHS, was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Khot further noted that while he can’t point out the exact reason behind the increase in the number of greater flamingos, increase in their population, and loss of their historical feeding grounds could be some of the reasons.
Notably, in Nhava and Sewri, nearly 227 and 17,000 greater flamingos were recorded respectively. Also, there were 21% sub adults and 5% juveniles whose numbers were lower than adults for all three reasons.
This was a sharp increase as compared to 2020-21, when around 324-569 flamingos were recorded in all three regions.
Nearly 1,33,000 flamingos were seen during April 2022 in Sewri-Nhava and other nearby areas as compared to 1,03,000 in February 2021. Also, there were 96,400 flamingos during February 2020 and 1,20,000 in March 2019.
Flamingos mostly visit MMR from November to May every year from Gujarat and Iran, mostly for feeding purposes. Significantly, migration from breeding grounds begins post monsoon when regions start getting dry. Their arrivals have, however, been delayed due to good availability of water in the last few years through winter.