Vasai-Virar is a haven for birds
In a 2005 bird survey carried out by Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), 194 bird species were recorded in the Vasai-Virar belt. However, a new survey conducted in the area reveals that there are 248 bird species. This survey is the endeavour of young men, aged 18 to 30 years, all residents of the area. Their documentation overrides the data provided by the SGNP.
Crab plover at Vasai beach
While they are not professional surveyors, their keen interest in protecting the area’s environment led them to undertake the survey. The team includes Kuldeep Chaudhuri (a photojournalist), software engineer Amol Lopes, Sachin Marti (who works in the area of water conservation), Leonard Rebello, MV Bhakta and Franklyn Gonsalves. The team sets out on Sundays to visit the wetlands in the belt. Rare bird sightings include Tytler’s leaf warbler, spotted crake, red-necked falcon, amur falcon and crab plover. In the Mumbai region, the oriental darter has been only recorded in Murbad apart from Vasai-Virar. The team feels there is a need to protect the greenery and forested patch along with the wetlands before development wipes it out. “From 2009, we have been documenting the bird species found in the Vasai-Virar belt. We have photographic evidence to support our claim. Rare forest species found here shows how rich the habitat in Vasai is. Hence, the need for fast conservation measures. Along with the 248 species of birds, we have also recorded 50 species of butterflies,” said Chaudhari.