Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Flamingos at Sewri

Mumbai is never short when it comes to surprises. Another nice surprise is the arrival of beautiful flamingos in this highly polluted and crowded metropolis.
The huge expanse of colorless mud flats in Sewri glow with the arrival of countless pink lesser flamingos.

Last year, around 12000 flamingos visited these mudflats.

‘‘No one knows exactly where the flamingos come from at this time of the year. Some experts feel that the birds fly here from the Rann of Kutch, where they normally breed,’’ Isaac Kehimkar, the spokesperson of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said.

The birds, he said, are annually seen at Sewri from the beginning of November till the beginning of monsoon next year.

Apart from flamingos, numerous other species including gulls, terns and waders can also be spotted at Sewri.

Encouraged by the growing number of flamingos visiting the mudflats, the Mumbai Port Trust has floated a plan to turn it into a magnet for birdwatchers and the general public. The five-acre stretch of mudflats, of which 1.5 acres will be taken up by the proposed park, would be secured for flamingos and other migratory birds.
The Mumbai Port Trust is drawing up an ambitious Rs1.45cr plan to develop an infotainment park around the Sewri mudflats.

This park would have a mini-theatre, projection facilities, an auditorium and water fountains to complete the outdoors experience. An interpretation centre, where one can learn about the biodiversity of the area and the importance of mangroves, is aimed at attracting children. About 70 per cent of the total amount allocated for the project will go into building this centre.

Officials feel that once the Sewri Fort is refurbished under a makeover plan, the mudflats would become a tourist draw If you wish to go for Flamingo Watching, you can take a habour line train to Sewri, and then take a taxi to Colgate factory. Close to the factory is this vast mudflat where you will see many birds. Best time is to go early mornings, between high tide and low tide. A good pair of binoculars, a cap and patience is the only things required to make this visit a memorable experience.
Image: Google


Anonymous said...

Flamingo Meat Mumbaikars

Birds put up for sale at the Nal Sarovar sanctuary
Kumar Shakti Shekhar
NAL SAROVAR, May 19: A pelican for Rs 200. A Greyleg Goose for Rs 150. A flamingo for Rs 50. A Common Pochard for Rs 40. Small Egrets for Rs 10. And a variety of other water-birds for even less.

Welcome to the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary! Here, poachers trap and sell rare birds to villagers for meat. From October to May, the season during which the migratory birds stay here, some 25 birds are daily caught, sold and killed for meat. All this at a sanctuary which is protected by the forest department.

Except for pelicans, the other birds are eaten by the villagers. Pelican meat is roasted to extract the fat, which is believed to cure arthritis.

The poachers belong to villages such as Shahpur, Nani Kathechi, Ranagadh, Darji, and Durgi, which are around the sanctuary. Generally, they sell the birds to other villagers, but they also pass the birds on to some trusted pheriwalas, who sell them in nearby talukas at much higher prices.

This is how the poachers catch the birds, mostly by night. They erect poles fitted with nets in the lake. One pole in the middle is tied to a cord, the other end of which is with a poacher, who sits, some 500 metres away, on one of the 360 islets in the lake. Some men drive resting birds towards the nets. Once some birds enter the net, the man on the islet pulls the cord. The pole falls. The birds are in the net.

This goes on from midnight to early morning. The captive birds, their wings entwined, are first kept in a boat and then packed in large sacks and taken to the villages for sale.

Poachers trap a few birds by day, too. This they do by placing nooses in the marshes. When a bird walks into a noose, the poacher pulls it tight and catches the bird, as it flutters its wings in frustration.

The Express Newsline team met two poachers carrying sacks stained with blood. They said there were four live flamingoes in the sacks. They agreed to part with the birds for Rs 40 each. They also revealed that they had caught 17 flamingoes and already sold 13 to villagers and pheriwalas. Ironically, this happened just a few yards away from the Flamingo Inspection Bungalow set up here by the Forest Department.

Flamingoes are listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Cruelty to these birds is punishable under section 51 of the Act which amounts to three years' imprisonment or a fine of Rs 25,000 or both.

But poaching is rampant in the sanctuary. It has been going on for a long time. Forest department officials make cursory patrols around the lake from December to March, when bird population is at its highest and tourists throng the place. Once the tourist season is over, the officials disappear.

When contacted, G.A. Patel, chief conservator of forests, Gandhinagar, who is in charge of the sanctuary, said migratory birds like flamingoes aren't found at this time of the year. He seemed oblivious of the fact that at least 10,000 Lesser Flamingoes, 2,500 Greater Flamingoes, 5,000 Little Egrets, 1,500 Painted Storks, and 1,200 spoonbills, to name a few, still inhabit the sanctuary.

Patel also said he had never heard of poaching at the sanctuary, even though he had served as district forest officer of the area in the past. On being told about what the Express Newsline team saw, he said, ``I don't deny that a few stray incidents could be taking place once in a while in some remote corner. But we are vigilant too.''

Patel said there was no water in the lake and, therefore, no migratory bird was to be found. But when reminded that there was knee-deep water in the lake, most suited for the birds to inhabit and mate, he said he would inquire into the poaching. He said he wondered how poaching could take place when an assistant conservator of forests, two range forest officers and other foresters are camping at the site.

The fact, however, is that no forest department official has been staying in the forest department bungalow in the sanctuary for the past few months.

Flamingoes migrate from Siberia during winter to Pakistan and India. In India they stay in Kutch and Nal Sarovar. They mate here and fly back home in April-May with their chicks. This could well stop if the poaching continues.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Anushri said...

I just recently happened to visit Sewri. The place was amazing! I could spot thousands of flamingos in just one shot of an eye. Nature is so beautiful!

But I hope no poaching happens here, as the comment above is very heartening... Let the nature breathe in the air and not in your stomach!

PS: The shot that u hv captured is amazing! Keep clicking ;)

Amit M said...

Hey, thanks for the writeup, was very useful when I wen last week. You might want to add that the policemen near the Colgate factory do not allow photography there. it is much better wo walk in the opposite direction along the road, (take a right when you reach the end of the Sewri-Koliwada) road and reach the harbour. A much better place for watching the birds.

IndianWildlifeClub said...

Interesting and useful information on flamingos. I have shared this on my face-book page.

The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

Whats the Time Please?

Live Exchange Rates

Do you love what you read here? .....Copy, churn, reproduce, share or imitate....knowledge is for sharing....But, do acknowledge me, or better still.... send me a copy.......