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Why Flamingos Are Flocking To Mumbai

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Every year about this time, flamingos flock to Mumbai to feed - 40- to 50,000 of them.

RAHUL KHOT: Flamingo is, you know, iconic bird for Mumbai.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Rahul Khot is an assistant director at the Bombay Natural History Society. He told us that from September through April, the flamingos settle among the mangroves on Mumbai's Thane Creek.

KHOT: The scene in the Thane Creek when they're wading in the water is amazing. You can see 30-, 40,000 birds; a pink flock, you know, feeding in the creek.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But this season, the society reported a near threefold increase in Mumbai's flamingo population.

KHOT: We have currently more than 120,000 flamingos in Mumbai right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That 120,000 number is not normal. Khot and his team of scientists speculate that an increase in blue-green algae is, in part, attracting the large crowds to Thane Creek to feed.

KHOT: One thing is clear; that the blue-green algae is there in the creek. That's why large number of flamingos are visiting this place. That means this - Thane Creek is highly productive.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Some scientists have suggested that the high productivity might be caused by an increase in sewage output and industrial runoff into the creek. Khot and his team aren't convinced quite yet, but they welcome the attention the flamingos of Mumbai are getting right now.

KHOT: Really good to see the large number of birds visiting this metro city - but that also adds to our responsibility to conserve their habitat so that, you know, incoming generation also will enjoy these birds.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Rahul Khot of the Bombay Natural History Society.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAMINGO BABY")

VIOLENT FEMMES: (Singing) Yeah, you're a flamingo. You stand on one leg. Yeah, you're a flamingo, baby. You hatched from an egg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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