Mumbai, the capital of western India’s Maharastra, is known for having a large population of the pink birds FILE PHOTO: Flocks of flamingos fly over a creek in Mumbai on May 2, 2022. © Punit PARANJPE / AFP

The carcasses of around 36 flamingos were found in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, on Monday night. The birds were reportedly struck dead by an Emirates flight moments before it landed, according to the Times of India.

The dead birds were found in the Ghatkopar neighborhood of Mumbai, close to the airport. The plane was also damaged during the collision and its return flight to Dubai was cancelled, tracking website Flightradar24 showed.

Nearby residents initially discovered broken pieces of wings, beaks, and claws scattered over a large area, following which they alerted forest officials. Local officials have launched a search operation to find out if more flamingos were killed in the accident.

According to D. Stalin, a local environmentalist who was quoted by Hindustan Times, new power lines built in the area had “disoriented” the birds, causing the accident.

Pawan Sharma, founder of the Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), said the carcasses have been sent for autopsy to determine the “exact cause of their death,” according to NDTV. RAWW is a local non-government organization that seeks to resolve human-wildlife conflicts and promote urban wildlife conservation.

Flamingos are found in several locations across India, particularly during the winter season. In Mumbai, a large number of the birds reside in the Sewri mudflats, a wetland area. The Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary on the city’s outskirts and Bhigwan, some 100km from the city of Pune, are other places in Maharashtra state where these exotic birds are found in abundance.

India has the largest population of lesser flamingos outside Africa, mostly in the salt deserts of the western state of Gujarat.

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