Migration of flamingos is considered one of the iconic moments in Mumbai as they visit every year to paint the city pink. Since the 1980s, flocks of 30,000-40,000 of the bird have been settling along the Thane Creek between September and April. The number has increased significantly over the years and in 2020, Mumbai registered close to 1.5 lakh birds as per Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
While four decades back the conditions were ideal for flamingos to visit the city, but today, unfortunately we see them being squeezed on smaller pockets, forcing the flamingos to thrive within increasingly shrinking wetlands owing to the continuing encroachment of their habitats due to construction projects and rampant disregard of citizens demands for their protection.
Previously a flamingo hotspot, the Uran wetlands for instance, has been recently reclaimed to make way for a new airport. Meanwhile, the ongoing construction of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link – a 22km sea bridge that cuts across mangroves and mudflats to Navi Mumbai – means flamingos no longer flock in such numbers to Sewri Bay, which lies between Thane Creek and the Arabian Sea.
To add on to that, clearance has been given to India’s first bullet train to pass through the creek’s protected flamingo sanctuary. If such unsustainable development projects continue to be given approvals, Mumbai will not be left with wetlands or mangroves, nor our iconic flamingos.
Concerned by the impact of unsustainable development on Mumbai’s iconic flamingos, renowned environmentalists, public figures, and informed citizens have taken to twitter to share their voice to protect the wetlands for flamingos: