It felt like a breath of fresh air when Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray announced that 600 acres of Aarey Milk Colony will be reserved as forest land. The move, for Mahesh Yadav, a naturalist and co-founder of JY Brothers, is a welcome one but much still needs to be done. The exact portion to be reserved is yet to be determined, and that’s where the catch lies. “Let us not forget that nature knows no boundaries. Will the authorities export all the existing flora, fauna, reptiles, birds to the declared 600 acres?” he asks.
As per a report submitted to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the colony is home to over 290 wild species of flora and fauna. But researcher and arachnologist Rajesh Sanap, says that there are species that are still undocumented. He calls for a citizen science movement. “Click pictures of what you observe in the area and upload it on sites like India Biodiversity Portal. So, you’ll be contributing to research,” he says. To give you a glimpse of what the forest has to offer, we invited Yadav and Sanap to show unique flora and fauna that fill the space.
Log on to indiabiodiversity.org
Hetrophrictus aareyensis, a new species of tarantula, was discovered in 2014 and is named after Aarey colony. Pics courtesy/RAJESH SANAP
Aarey also plays host to one of the largest species of moths, the Indian moon moth or luna moth. “They don’t have a mouth or digestive system to feed as an adult moth, Their mouthparts are immature and digestive tracts are absent. Their adult stage is mainly for reproduction,” Yadav shares.
(Before and After) Seasonal ponds grace the colony and are important in ensuring that the ecosystem thrives. But they can only be seen during the monsoon — the season during which, Sanap says, Aarey turns into a magical forest. “Once the monsoon retreats, you only see land and people playing cricket on it. I’ve also spotted a leopard walking on it,” he adds.
The whip scorpion, also known as the tailless whip scorpion or amblypygid, is an intriguing creature, according to Yadav. Amblypygid means “blunt rump”, a reference to the absence of a tail. “They are almost harmless to humans due to the lack of venom,” he says.
The Indian rock python can grow as long as 15 feet and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act. PICS courtesy/JY BROTHERS
One can spot Lagerstroemia speciosa, the state flower of Maharashtra, which is also referred to as ‘Pride of India’
Keep scrolling to read more news
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and a complete guide from food to things to do and events across Mumbai. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates.
Mid-Day is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@middayinfomedialtd) and stay updated with the latest news