Climate change and loss of habitat are two dangers which, as it is, are hanging over migratory birds such as flamingos. On top of that, they face a threat from poaching as well. On Friday evening, three flamingos were shot dead near a creek next to the Kelve beach in Palghar, in the neighbouring Thane district.
Two of the birds were killed on the spot, while the third one succumbed to its injury after some time. Pic/Ranjeet Jadhav
Speaking to sunday mid-day, a villager from Danda Khadi village near Kelve Beach in Palghar said, “On Friday evening, one of the villagers who stays close to the creek heard gunshots, following which a few other villagers ran towards the creek, only to find three flamingos injured by the bullets. While two of the birds were already dead, the third succumbed to its injuries by the time we brought it to our village. We even tried to look for the poachers who killed these innocent creatures but they fled when they saw the villagers. Later, we informed the police officials and the forest department team, too, came to the spot to conduct inquiries.”
According to the villagers, a flock of more than 100 flamingos gather near the creek every morning and evening. Bird lovers often throng the place on weekends to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures. In the past four or five years, the number of flamingos coming to the creek has increased as there is plenty of food and less human disturbance.
Another villager revealed, “We have never heard gunshots in this area earlier, but on Friday evening, we were shocked to hear gun shots at around 6.15 pm. The forest department officials should see to it that patrolling in the area is increased to avoid any further instances of poaching.”
It should be noted that the wetlands are an important habitat for migratory birds such as flamingos and with the destruction of wetlands in many areas of Mumbai and its surrounding areas, the flamingos that migrate to India are dependent on the remaining mudflats. There is a bigger threat to flamingos now because of increased cases of poaching. Reportedly, they have been killed in Uran and Navi Mumbai belt as well, as there is a demand for their meat in the local market.
Speaking to sunday mid-day, Nandkishor Kupthe, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Dahanu (Territorial) said, “We have received information about the suspected poachers from our sources and we will nab them soon.”
Wildlife expert and founder of NGO Wildlife Images and Reflection, Mayur Kamath said, “The flamingos are usually killed for their meat. Many people are not aware that they can be punished as per the law for killing this bird. In order to prevent further poaching of flamingos, the forest department should start conducting more patrolling in the area and see to it that the birds are not harmed.”
It should be noted that hunting threatened species such as the greater and lesser flamingoes under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 can mean prison terms of up to seven years