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| Last Updated:02/04/2018

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Mangrove Cell ready to flag off boat rides from October

 After facing much embarrassment for not being able to kick-start boat rides in Thane Creek from May, for tourists visiting the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB) at Airoli, the Mangrove Cell is ready to flag off its most anticipated pet project in October.

"Our first 24-seater motor boat has been procured and the registration procedure will be over in a week's time. We will begin from October, after the monsoon. It is also the perfect time when all the migratory shore birds begin arriving at the creek," said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Mangrove Cell, N Vasudevan.

In April this year, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar inaugurated the first of its kind centre dedicated to marine and coastal biodiversity. The CMCB is part of the Thane Flamingo Sanctuary, which provides nature enthusiasts a better understanding of marine biodiversity through German-made exhibits.

Thane Creek is said to be a birding paradise, not only is it designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), but as per the Mangrove Cell there are over 200 species of birds that can be sighted. The creek is home to not only flamingos but also raptors, sand pipers, gulls, waders and terns.

Vasudevan informed that a driver and guide will accompany tourists on the boat ride that will move through the mangrove belt along the creek. "Tourists will be able to view the mangroves from close quarters and also spot several shore birds as well as Mumbai's famous guests, the flamingos, who throng the creek. We also plan to train local fishermen to work as guides," he said.

Another senior mangrove cell official said that they were also concerned about the boat ride disturbing the birds who feed in the wetlands. "The boat engine is of lower horsepower to ensure low noise levels and the boats will be stopped at a safe distance from the birds so as to not disturb them. We will also ensure that tourists do not carry any food during the boat ride," said the official. As of now, the boat ride will be limited to one and depending on demand from tourists, more boats will be added to the fleet.