The pandemic has proven to be the age of animal takeovers. As if universally coordinated, wild animals all over the world are seizing the opportunity to make themselves at home in our abandoned cities and towns. In Mumbai, it’s not uncommon to see an influx of flamingos between November and May, but now residents are reporting an unprecedented population boom.
In the absence of humans, flamingos are flocking to the city by the tens of thousands. A new report from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) estimates that the flamingo migration population is 25 percent higher than last year, with around 150,000 flamingos making the journey to Mumbai.
Deepak Apte, director of the BNHS, 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.”
In addition to the increased privacy, other factors are making Mumbai particularly hospitable to flamingos this year. Rahul Khot, assistant director of the BNHS, said, “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.”
Unfortunately for humans — but fortunately for the flamingos — people can’t go outside and see the birds in person, so for now, they’re enjoying their remaining weeks as the stewards of Mumbai.