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Flocks of flamingos turn Mumbai pink during coronavirus lockdown

Flamingos are seen in huge numbers behind NRI colony in Talawe wetland, Nerul, during nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus, on April 18, 2020 in Mumbai, India.
Flamingos are seen in huge numbers behind NRI colony in Talawe wetland, Nerul, during nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus, on April 18, 2020 in Mumbai, India. Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Flamingos are painting Mumbai pink, migrating to the Indian city en masse as it remains in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the beautifully coloured birds have been migrating to Mumbai since the 1980s, the country has never seen such a large number, the Science Times reports.

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has estimated, per the Hindustan Times, an increase of 25 per cent after around 150,000 flamingos made the trip to Mumbai this year.

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Less human activity and commercial fishing, thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns that began March 25, have made for the perfect foraging conditions in wetlands near Sewri and Thane Creek, the publication reports.

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“The lockdown is giving these birds peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food and overall encouraging habitat,” Deepak Apte, director of the BNHS, told the Hindustan Times.

In photos taken by Hindustan Times photographer Pratik Chorge, the waters the flamingos stand in almost appear pink because of the number of birds.

Coronavirus around the world: April 29, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: April 29, 2020

Flamingos typically migrate to Mumbai from November to May. In January, the Times reports, there were only around 33,000 birds there. By the end of February, the number had increased to 100,000.

The birds may even stay around for longer this year, Rahul Khot, assistant director of the BNHS, told the Hindustan Times.

“While there is a decline in industrial waste during the lockdown, the influx of domestic sewage is helping the undisturbed formation of planktons, algae and microbenthos formation, which forms the food for flamingos and other wetland birds,” he explained.

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In 2019, officials granted permission for India’s first bullet train to pass through Thane Creek’s protected flamingo sanctuary, the Guardian reported.

The 22-kilometre train has destroyed much of the city’s bird-friendly mangroves and mudflats, the publication said.

For now, the Times says, locked-down residents of Mumbai are enjoying the pink view from their windows.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca