Thane Creek

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A4ii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 12,200 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2013 low very unfavourable negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (baseline)
Thane creek is one of the largest creeks in Asia and is located partly on the coast of Mumbai metropolis. The east bank lies in the Thane and Navi Mumbai districts, while the west bank is in the Greater Mumbai district. The creek runs about 26 km north from Mumbai harbour before it joins Ulhas river through a small channel. There are several sources of fresh water for the creek, of which Ulhas river is the largest, followed by numerous drainage channels from various suburban areas of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. The site is a mixture of saltpans as well as stretches of mangroves. The saltpan lands are potential areas for mangrove development, and can be easily reverted to their original status, that of mangroves. Considering the value of the adjoining areas in terms of bird habitat, the IBA can be extended to Uran on the eastern side and Sewree on the western side. The area also includes Elephanta Island, which is an international tourist destination. About 90 species of plants are recorded from this IBA. Three types of vegetation are recognized here: mangrove, mangrove associated species and non-mangrove plants. Among mangroves Avicennia marina, A. officinalis, A. alba, Rhizophora mucronata and Ceriops tagal are the dominant species. Among the mangrove associates Acanthus ilicifolius, Aleuropus lagopoides, Sesuvium protulacastrum and Salvadora persica are dominant (Nitsure 2002).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Over 205 species of birds have been reported from this area (Nitsure 2002). Thane Creek is a very important wintering ground for waterbirds. It supports over 1,00,000 birds during winter (Kulkarni 2000). These include the Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Eastern Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres and Dunlin Calidris alpina. Smaller waders, especially Little Stints Calidris minutus and Temminck’s Stints C. temminckii are sometimes seen in tens of thousands. Thane Creek and surrounding regions sometimes show unusual bird species. For instance, on June 4, 1970, a Least Frigate Bird Fregata ariel iredalei was found on the Mumbai beach. It was tagged at Aldabra Island on April 18, 1969 (Ali 1970). Similarly, a Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus was noted near Vihar Lake (Bannerjee 1984), about 10 km from Thane Creek. This site is selected as an IBA mainly because of a very large number of waterbirds found here (A4 criteria). Many species occur much above their 1% biogeographic population threshold determined by the Wetlands International (2002). Detailed studies on the bird life of this important site are urgently required.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: About 27 species of phytoplankton were recorded from this area (Quadrus 2001). About 33 species of reptiles, 13 species of crabs, 7 species of prawns, 23 species of butterflies and 21 species of fish, and mammals like the Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Common Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi also inhabit the area (Deshmukh 1990, Kulkarni 2000).

The endangered Green Turtle Chelonia mydas was also recorded from here (Varad Giri pers. comm. 2002).

Key contributors: Vivek Kulkarni and Debi Goenka.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Thane Creek. Downloaded from on 03/06/2023.