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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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