The flamingo population of India’s largest city has tripled. Is it thanks to sewage boosting the blue-green algae they feed on?
Payal Mohta in Mumbai
Tue 26 Mar 2019 09.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 26 Mar 2019 11.08 GMT
There is an air of anxious excitement among the urban professionals and tourists on board our 24-seater motorboat as we enter Thane Creek.
A chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” breaks out as we spot the visions in pink we came to see – hundreds of flamingos listlessly bobbing in the murky green water – followed by the furious clicking of cameras.
Then, almost as one, the birds skim the water and take off in sync. “They always stay together,” says Prathamesh Desai, who has been organising birding excursions in the city for seven years. “They are an extremely gregarious species.”
These birds have begun congregating in India’s largest city in astonishing numbers. A count in January this year found 120,000 flamingos in the city – three times their highest population in at least four decades.
“Flamingos began migrating to Mumbai in the 1980s and 1990s,” says Rahul Khot, assistant director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), one of the oldest scientific institutions in India. “Records show that since then their numbers have hovered between 30,000 and 40,000 each season.”