Environmental News from India:
- Each year, before the monsoons in Maharashtra, tourists gather in forests at night, to witness the fascinating illumination of fireflies that light up for mating.
- Environmentalists have opposed such festivals, citing harm to fireflies during the mating season and disruption of the habitat.
- Festival organizers are open to following guidelines but suggest that this ecotourism model could in turn benefit the village economy and encourage forest conservation.
- Research indicates that the firefly population in India is decreasing. However, the unique behavior of fireflies and their illumination patterns along with a short lifespan, make these insects difficult to study.
Those familiar with Marathi pop culture were left enthralled by fireflies that featured in the iconic scene from Man Mandira, a song from the 2015 Marathi film Katyar Kaljat Ghusli. In the video, fireflies illuminate the screen as a father and son take in the magical sight on the riverside. Anecdotes indicate that the song inspired people to seek out a similar sight and head to firefly-watching festivals across Maharashtra.
Right before the monsoons, firefly festivals are organized in parts of the state, where tourists gather after dark to witness the illumination by fireflies. This year, however, environmentalists have strongly opposed such festivals, citing harm to fireflies during the mating season as well as light pollution and littering which impacts the sensitive habitat.
One such festival in Radhanagari, Kolhapur, has now been canceled following opposition from environmentalists. Other firefly festivals in Maharashtra take place in Bhandardara, Rajmachi, Purushwadi, Prabalwadi, Bhimashankar, Harishchandragad, and Malshej Ghat. During these festivals, there are night camps and walks in the dense forest with most tourists coming in from Mumbai, Pune, and other urban areas in Maharashtra and paying between Rs. 1,000 to 5,000 per day for the experience.
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