Thane: Forest department sees pink over flamingo deaths

Mangroves Cell putting up beat chowkies in 10-odd locations along the sanctuary and Thane Creek to enforce law against poaching of the birds


Lesser flamingoes fly at Airoli Creek where 1,690 hectares of land between Airoli and Vashi bridges, along Thane Creek, have been declared a flamingo sanctuary. Pics / Sameer Markande

'Better late than never' best applies to Mumbai's Mangroves Cell when it concerns action on flamingo poachers. The state forest department has finally woken up to the need to preserve the wildlife of the city. Taking a serious note of the rising number of incidents of flamingo poaching for meat, the Mangroves Cell is in the midst of setting up beat chowkies at 10-odd locations within the flamingo sanctuary in Thane and across Thane Creek.

Officials said strict action would be taken against those found killing flamingoes, which includes a jail term of up to seven years.
Assistant conservator of forests Makrand Ghodke told mid-day, "Our team has been patrolling the area. If anyone is found troubling or poaching flamingoes, we will ensure the person faces strict action as per law."

According to wildlife activists, flamingo meat, popularly referred to as 'gulaabi baglyaache meat', is sold on the sly in markets in Mahul, Chembur, Bhandup and Mulund.

With the mangroves stretch surrounding Thane Creek between Airoli and Vashi bridge being a protected area, the cell is making all possible efforts to protect the biodiversity found there.

In the past few months, in a survey of the area surrounding the sanctuary, the Cell identified around 10 locations from where fishermen and others enter the waters; that's where the chowkies are being set up.

"Check posts are a big step towards monitoring the activity of people who enter the waters," said an official from the Mangroves Cell. Birdwatchers entering the mangroves patch close to Bhandup have claimed that many times they have heard gunshots, allegedly fired by poachers at the pink visitors.

Pawan Sharma, from NGO RAWW, said, "At present there are many entry points to the water bodies along the flamingo sanctuary, making it very difficult for the authorities to keep tabs on people entering or exiting the sanctuary. The poachers responsible for killing the flamingoes could also be taking the hidden routes here. The check posts along the sanctuary could help curb poaching."

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