A survey by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has revealed that Maharashtra is home to the highest flamingo population in the country, followed by Karnataka and Gujarat.
The survey, conducted on February 23 and 24, has found 19,832 Greater Flamingos and 83,364 Lesser Flamingos in the state. This was the first-ever count, taking into account surveys conducted by people, held across 10 states and one UT.
BNHS had shortlisted 113 sites across India, where flamingos are found, with 10 of them being in Maharashtra. The survey revealed that in all, 51,655 Greater Flamingos and 88,906 Lesser Flamingos visit the country. After Maharashtra, the second-highest number of Greater Flamingos was found in Karnataka (11,673), followed by Gujarat (7,078).
The two species of flamingos, which are migratory birds, arrive in Mumbai wetlands between November and May. Greater Flamingos, which are taller and white in colour, have a mixed feeding pattern. They feed on insects, small fish and algae. The Lesser Flamingos are comparatively smaller and pink in colour. They eat only algae. But experts pointed out that the survey was unscientific, as it was dependent on the participation of local residents, which can vary at different sites, leading to skewed results.
“Such a citizen-led survey should be taken with a pinch of salt. There are multiple issues. For example, is a particular person an expert in counting the birds or is he/she going by estimation? Also, how many people participated, there is a possibility that volunteers in Maharashtra were higher as compared to other states, leading to skewed results. …the scientific community …shouldn’t depend on it,” said Adesh Shivkar, founder of Nature India.