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Big pink influx: Why flamingo-spotting is Mumbai's latest craze

120,000 birds drawn to Thane Creek as slum waste fuels their food

Lesser flamingos gather on Mumbai's Thane Creek, Asia's largest creek. (Photo by Matjaz Tancic)

MUMBAI -- "People are crazy about flamingos here," says chemistry student and part-time tour guide Ujwal Vhadkai, binoculars gently swinging from her neck, as a flock of lesser flamingos flies in front of the tourist boat she is standing in.

The vessel was a sellout, containing around 30 cooing domestic tourists, all keen for a style of glorious visual drama uncommon in an Asian megacity. Fingers pointed and necks swiveled as another pink flock took off from the water surface of Mumbai's Thane Creek, the birds arrowing through the air in front of skyscraper silhouettes rendered shadowy by the city's smog-haze.

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