The Maharashtra government on Thursday issued a notification declaring the northern part of Thane Creek as a flamingo sanctuary. This will be the state’s second marine sanctuary after Malvan.
The 1,690 hectares sanctuary will include 896 ha of mangroves and 794 ha of adjacent water body and is located on the western bank, between the Airoli and Vashi bridges that connect Mumbai with Navi Mumbai. The Indian Express had first reported about the mangrove cell’s marine wildlife sanctuary proposal in Thane in March last year.
“Declaration of the Thane Creek Sanctuary, located right in the midst of a mega city, is a very significant step for the conservation of this unique natural environment with its eclectic mix of mangroves, mudflats and threatened species of birds. The ecosystem will be closely monitored and shielded from serious threats like discharge of effluents, dumping of sewage and other biotic interferences. At the same time, the scientific community, wildlife enthusiasts and the general public could enjoy access to this natural wonder in a regulated manner. Suitable amenities will be provided for such regulated access to the site, without causing disturbance to the ecosystem,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell.
The mangrove cell has already initiated baseline studies and rapid biodiversity assessment of the Sanctuary area with assistance from the Indo-German (GIZ) Project on “Conservation and Sustainable Management of Marine Protected Areas (CMPA)”. These studies would in turn help in the preparation of a scientific management plan for the Sanctuary and for its sustainable management.
The eco-sensitive zone of the sanctuary will be the adjoining mangrove areas on either side of the creek, which are already notified as Reserve Forests. The ‘Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit’ under the Mangrove Cell will be responsible for the management of the Sanctuary.
Since 1994, the Thane Creek has been attracting flamingos in large numbers. By November, more than 30,000 of these beautiful birds, along with their chicks occupy the mudflats and the bordering mangroves and remain there until May.
Almost 90% of the Flamingo population consists of Lesser Flamingos and the remaining are Greater Flamingos. Besides supporting a large congregation of flamingos, the area is a refuge for many other resident and migratory birds. In all, about 200 species of birds have been reported from this area, which include Globally Threatened Species like the Greater Spotted Eagle (IUCN Category-Vulnerable) and others like Osprey (listed in Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act). Other bird species include the Pied Avocet, Western Reef Heron, Black-headed Ibis, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Brown-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Little Tern, White Bellied Sea Eagle and Eurasian Marsh Harrier. ‘Birdlife International’ has already declared Thane Creek as an Important Bird