The animal kingdom is reclaiming the land they once roamed before humans took over. We have read about the lions in South Africa lounging on the roads and the turtles in Florida taking over a beach. One of our favourite stories is of the flamingos in Mumbai, India.
Record Number Flamingos
Flamingos migrating to Mumbai for breeding between the months of November through to May is well recorded. However, as reported by Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS), some 150,000 flamingos, a 24 percent increase than in previous years have literally altered the landscape of Mumbai. What is normally covered with cars and pedestrians is now pink.
Bombay Natural History Society
The COVID-19 lockdown has restricted mobility for the country’s 1.3 billion people. As a result, it has given the flamingos “…peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food, and overall encouraging habitat,” as shared by Deepak Apte, director of BNHS, to the Hindustan Times.
Rahul Khot, assistant director at the Bombay Natural History Society, told CNN that flamingos in wetlands are a rarity, but they’re migrating there this year. Some of the areas, such as the Thane Creek and the Talawe wetland, where the flamingos have been spotted in large numbers, usually have a lot of construction and fishing. “They are being reported from places where they have earlier been reported less in number because there is no human activity there now,” Khot told CNN.
Lockdown Brings Animals Out to Play
During the pandemic, animals have been spotted throughout the world in places that are usually dominated by humans. CNN reports that dolphins have swam in India’s Ganges river for the first time in years, and hundreds of monkeys have “descended” on Delhi as the city remains under lockdown. Cougars were reportedly spotted prowling the streets in Santiago, Chile, in April; wild Kashmiri goats meandered through on the town of Llandudno, Wales, in March.
The local residents have been capturing photographs and videos of this beautiful site from their balconies. As resident Sunil Agarwal, Seawoods in Navi Mumbai told the Times about the flamingos; “The lockdown will at least prompt people to focus on what is around them, which they had been taking for granted, and hopefully this site will be declared a flamingo sanctuary soon.”  Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Meanwhile in Canada…
As a kid, I had an obsession with flamingos. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, these tropical birds flight path during migration did not include my country. The closest I would come to a flamingo was either at the Toronto Zoo during the summer or while vacationing in Florida. One summer in my mid-teens, my friends and I decided to collect as many plastic flamingo lawn ornaments (the ones with the spiked steel pegs for legs) as possible.
We managed to round up close to 100 bright pink plastic flamingos and carefully (and quietly) placed them in my parent’s backyard late in the evening. My parents were dumbfounded when they discovered that every inch of their backyard was covered with bright pink plastic flamingos. They stood there scratching their heads while I tried my best to suppress laughter. My dad thought it was absolutely hilarious. My mom, not so much. She ended up calling friends, family and the neighbours to come by and take as many as they wanted. We kept about ten. That summer, almost every house had a couple of flamingos in their front garden. And the ones that didn’t, they went out and bought their own. We started a trend that summer that carried on for many years.
At Trip Jaunt, we love exploring planet. And, although we cannot travel at this time, we are grateful that we are connected through technology to revisit the places we have visited. And that is key. We are all visitors here. At this time, our fellow inhabitants have been given the opportunity to explore out of harm’s way. When we return to life, on the other side of this pandemic, let us remember that we share this planet and give space and the right of way to other inhabitants. Haven’t we taken up enough space?
Governor General Award recipient Helen Hatzis lives to travel. A xenophile at heart, she continues to travel the world and shares her experience on Trip Jaunt, an online travel community and hub she co-founded in 2016. Helen is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association and the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.