As people around the world stay inside to fight the spread of coronavirus, wild animals have begun to enjoy the newfound space. That appears to be what’s happened in the metropolitan region of Mumbai, India, where a record-breaking number of flamingos have migrated, painting the wetlands pink, according to local reports.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) estimates that around 25% more flamingos have migrated to the region compared to last year, likely caused by the decrease in human activity, the Hindustan Times reports. The Science Times calculates around 150,000 flamingos have come to the area.
India has been under a strict lockdown since March 25, which has required over a billion people to stay home and shutter all but essential services, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus. On May 1, the Indian government extended the lockdown through May 18.
Flamingos typically migrate to wetlands of the metropolitan region of Mumbai from November to May, Rhul Khot, the assistant director of the BNHS, told the Times. But this year’s lockdown “is giving these birds peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food and overall encouraging habitat,” Deepak Apte, the director of the BNHS, explained, per Times. He added that the increase is also likely tied to a successful breeding season two years ago, as well as the destruction of wetlands on India’s eastern seafront that could be pushing the birds to the Mumbai region, per the Times.
Khot also told the Times that that an increase in “domestic sewage” from people staying at home during the lockdown “is helping the undisturbed formation of planktons, algae and microbenthos formation, which forms the food for flamingos and other wetland birds.”
As the coronavirus pandemic has continued, 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.
“Residents are cooped up at home spending their mornings and evenings at their balconies taking photographs and videos of these relaxed birds,” Sunil Agarwal, a resident of 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.”