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Mumbai's Aarey Home To Rare Species Of Flora And Fauna

Mumbai's Aarey Home To Rare Species Of Flora And Fauna

Black-Naped Monarch are insectivorous birds that have short legs and sit very upright.

Black-Naped Monarch are insectivorous birds that have short legs and sit very upright. (Source: Shilpi Gemawat)

The scrapping of Development Plan 2034 has given Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony a reprieve. Regulars share pictures of rare birds and animals found here.

 

The Aarey Milk Colony in Mumbai’s western suburbs, is one of the few green spaces left in India’s densest city. Spread over 2,000 acres it’s a buffer between the city and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is spread over 104 sq km area.

 

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Recently, people came together to protest against the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s plans to build a car shed for Metro Line 3 through Aarey. They claimed this would destroy 2,298 trees and impact a diverse and rich ecosystem.

 

Forest Spotted Gecko are lizards found on tree branches near Royal palms in Aarey.

Forest Spotted Gecko are lizards found on tree branches near Royal palms in Aarey. (Source: Zeeshan Mirza)

Isometrus rigidulus is a one of the five species of scorpions found in Aarey.

Isometrus rigidulus is a one of the five species of scorpions found in Aarey. (Source: Zeeshan Mirza)

Ecologists say Aarey is home to 76 species of birds, 86 species of butterflies, 13 species of amphibians, 38 different types of reptiles, 19 spider species and 34 different types of wild flowers.

 

Shashank Birla, a wildlife photographer,  Shilpi Gemawat, a naturalist and Zeeshan Mirza, a Research Associate from The National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore have been studying the wildlife in Aarey for the last ten years. They share their pictures with BOOM.

 

Gemawat says, “Aarey is a complete self sustaining ecosystem and it would be a shame to lose it to a concrete jungle. I have encountered so many other creatures in Aarey from rat snakes, cobras, pythons, a Civet Cat, many species of birds, frogs, spiders and butterflies.”

 

Aarey Grasslands near Picnic Point in Aarey.

Aarey Grasslands near Picnic Point in Aarey. (Source: Shashank Birla)

Asian Koel a large, long-tailed, cuckoo.

Asian Koel a large, long-tailed, cuckoo. (Source: Shilpi Gemawat)

Mirza says, “I was lucky to be born close to Aarey, which served as a virtual laboratory to explore biodiversity right at the backward. I have seen the place change a lot in the last decade and hope it remains as it is. Despite our efforts, much still remains to be documented in the area. More researchers should come together to document the biodiversity of Aarey.”

 

Moon Moth, a medium to large-sized moth, is found on broader leaves in Aarey's deep forests.

Moon Moth, a medium to large-sized moth, is found on broader leaves in Aarey’s deep forests. (Source: Zeeshan Mirza)

Spotted Owl is a nocturnal bird but is sometimes spotted during the day when disturbed by intruders.

Spotted Owl is a nocturnal bird but is sometimes spotted during the day when disturbed by intruders. (Source: Shilpi Gemawat)

Fungoid frog, or Malabar Hills frog, is a colourful frog found on the forest floor of Aarey.

Fungoid frog, or Malabar Hills frog, is a colourful frog found on the forest floor of Aarey. (Source: Shilpi Gemawat)

Birla says, “Aarey has always been a great getaway for me on a weekend. A walk in the Panchavati gardens or a drive along the New Zealand Hostel road gives you a sense of serenity. It remains a rich source of biodiversity, supporting rare and endemic species.”

 

Tawny-Bellied Babbler is spotted commonly in the tall grasslands of Aarey. (Source: Shashank Birla)

Tawny-Bellied Babbler is spotted commonly in the tall grasslands of Aarey. (Source: Shashank Birla)

Strong Trapdoor Tarantula has been spotted on many tree branches in the deep forest of Aarey.

Strong Trapdoor Tarantula has been spotted on many tree branches in the deep forest of Aarey. (Source: Zeeshan Mirza)

Banded Bay Cuckoo, usually found in Aarey near the New Zealand Hostel, have a round-nostril.

Banded Bay Cuckoo, usually found in Aarey near the New Zealand Hostel, has a round-nostril. (Source: Shilpi Gemawat)

 

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