As India’s 1.3 billion residents face strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the South Asian country has witnessed a return of nature to many locations—including a massive influx of flamingos into the nation’s largest city.
Tens of thousands of the large pink birds have been arriving at Mumbai in recent weeks, with many of the gorgeous creatures simply overrunning urban areas that are thrived with human activity such as construction work and fishing in pre-quarantine days.
— Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) April 27, 2020
While Science Times reports that the flamingos have traditionally migrated to Mumbai metropolis during the October to March feeding and breeding season, the absence of city residents from its streets and open spaces has meant that the bird population has not only increased, but has made itself at home in and around the massive metropolitan zone.
Photographs shared on social media show the pink birds lounging on the apartment buildings above the city’s wetlands and along the mudflats of Thane Creek.
Flamingos in thane creek , Navi Mumbai .., no lockdown for them pic.twitter.com/hIt71YI2Pq
— vidya bhushan kumar (@vbk33) April 10, 2020
Experts also say that the flamingos have enjoyed a recent population boom, as evidenced by the 150,000 birds that have arrived in Mumba this—a 25 percent boost over last year, according to an estimate by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
The nationwide lockdown has also seen industrial waste discharge decline while sewage from homes has skyrocketed, resulting in a proliferation of the plankton and algae that comprises the diet of the large birds.
BNHS Director Deepak Apte told the Hindustan Times:
“A major reason for the large numbers is also the large flocks of juveniles moving to these sites, following the successful breeding documented two years ago.
“Additionally, the lockdown is giving these birds peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food, and overall encouraging habitat.”
Pictures clicked by my daughter Surabhi Agarwal from window in Navi Mumbai of Wetlands in Seawods forming part of National Wetlands Atlas which @CIDCO_Ltd is hell bent on destroying in the name of golf course despite warning by @BNHSIndia to preserve them for passengers safety. pic.twitter.com/RRh1TsLklk
— saveNaviMumbaiWetlands (@sunnyagro) April 20, 2020
India was placed under a strict nationwide lockdown on March 25, which affected all of the country’s residents. While it was introduced as a measure that would initially only last 21 days, it has faced extensions. The original mandates of the lockdown—which have since been relaxed—included sealed borders, curfews, and hard restrictions on movements besides essential outings for food and health care.
In Mumbai, 381 different containment areas faced additional restrictions such as no movement outdoors, including grocery purchases and restaurant delivery.
The Mumbai metropolitan area saw its best March air quality ever recorded in 2020 while April 2020 was also on track to be the best April on record, with massive drops in air pollution in the typically polluted city, according to Swiss-based air quality technology company IQAir.
The lockdown is set to expire May 3, but many states are discussing plans to continue the measures to ensure a limited spread of the novel coronavirus.
The lockdown has left many residents bored and listless, but the large increase in the birds has given Indians stuck with cabin fever a new hobby to help them pass the time.
Local resident Sunil Agarwal said:
“Residents are cooped up at home spending their mornings and evenings at their balconies taking photographs and videos of these relaxed birds.
“The lockdown will at least prompt people to focus on what is around them, which they had been taking for granted, and hopefully this site will be declared a flamingo sanctuary soon.”