In a first in the city, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park organised a three-day show on fireflies from Wednesday to Friday. The walk-in show, organised in collaboration with the Nature Information Centre (NIC) at the tourism zone of SGNP, offered participants a chance to stay in the woods at the SGNP campsite to observe fireflies.
For James Gonsalves (20), a botany student who regularly attends NIC activities, this event was one he just couldn’t miss.“This is the first time I saw a festival organised for fireflies in Mumbai. Last week, when I was here for a camera trapping workshop, we spotted some fireflies and it piqued my interest. I knew I couldn’t miss this,” said Gonsalves.
“To see so many of them all in a corner of this busy city shows how little we know about them,” said Zeenat Kayanawala, another nature enthusiast.
Fireflies, also known as lampyridae, are bioluminescent insects that belong to the family of beetles, SGNP officials said. “Known for emitting light from their abdomen, they are found almost everywhere in the world except Antarctica. They do not have a particular habitat but are said to thrive in forests and fields. It is very rare to spot fireflies in Mumbai as they are usually driven away from their habitat due to too much light and clearing of forests, which has caused their numbers to decline in the city. They are mostly seen in the outskirts, in Bhandardara and Purushwadi,” said an official.
The months of May and June are the best time to observe fireflies, as this is their mating time and they can be in roaming around in hordes, nature experts said.
In the show, participants where informed about fireflies by Jayesh Vishwakarma, education officer of the NIC, before they were taken on a walk to observe fireflies. “I have been planning for this festival for a month and I just wanted people to join me in admiring these creatures,” said Jayesh, who is also a wildlife biologist. He added, “Fireflies have always been a part of the Mumbai fauna and we have always celebrated them. But I personally am very fond of these little creatures and wanted to share what I know about them with everyone.”