Citizens, officials and celebrities join hands to save birds and the ecosystem
Regardless of the scorching March sun, dust, heat and teaming crowds, Mumbaikars – young and old – thronged the Sewri Jetty on Saturday, 9th March 2013 to get a glimpse of the pink beauties – Flamingos! It was almost like a “nature fair or pilgrimage” as thousands of people turned up within a span of 6-7 hours from noon till sunset. The enthusiasm of seeing the birds and the satisfaction thereafter was evident on the faces of all. The twin objectives of BNHS in organizing the Flamingo Festival were to showcase the flamingos and other water birds and pass on the message of conservation to the general public. The Festival was inaugurated by unveiling a life size flamingo statue, which was the “Chief Guest”, very apt for the occasion, in the presence of BNHS staff, scientists, BNHS members, bird lovers, government officials, media and other nature loving Mumbaikars. Speaking on the occasion, BNHS Director, Dr Asad Rahmani said, “I am very happy to see that citizens, including children, have come in large numbers to see the birds. People have started relating with flamingos. The mudflats, mangroves and creeks where they live are a vital ecosystem, which need to preserved for the well-being of the city. We take this opportunity to once again insist that the proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link should be realigned on the Sewri end by about 500 metres to the south, so that the flamingo habitat is conserved”.
The Sea of Pink
Right next to the Arabian Sea was a Sea of Pink with nearly 15,000 Lesser and Greater Flamingo spread out on the mudflats foraging for food. In the background were the thick mangroves stretching up to Trombay and the oil refineries and power plants in Mahul in sharp contrast with the pink tide. The graceful movements of thousands of flamingos with their long elegant bodies, especially when flying in unison, were a mesmerizing sight. Apart from flamingos, it was also a good occasion to see other species of resident and migratory birds including herons, egrets, ibises, gulls, terns, plovers, sandpipers and kingfishers. Kids and grown-ups alike were making a beeline to click photos of the birds as well as their own photos with the flamingo statue kept at the venue!
Bird lovers and celebrities
BNHS and its team were out in full force explaining the ways of the birds, their habitat and the threats faced by them. Observing the flamingos under the guidance of BNHS experts with state-of-the-art binoculars and spotting scopes was a once-in-a-year experience. Along with this opportunity to view the birds to one’s heart’s content, the Festival also had popular sections such as the colourful illustrated exhibition on flamingos and activities for students including face painting, bird tattoos and ‘span your wings’. BNHS books and educational material that were on display attracted the attention of most visitors. The Festival also attracted many celebrities including corporates and film stars. Support from such people from different walks of life will go a long way in promoting the cause of conservation. The icing on the cake was the arrival of veteran actress Waheeda Rahman, in the evening, who honoured the BNHS invitation to be present at the Festival. Thus, it was a successful nature education and outreach event that will go a long way in kindling the love for nature among Mumbaikars.
--- Atul Sathe, Manager-Communications, BNHS India
Some of the images of the Festival