WAKE-UP! Highways are killing our Wildlife

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Time has come to shift our focus, roadkill has become the biggest threat to wildlife in India. Tiger numbers are soaring, poachers are being arrested at unprecedented rate, protection efforts are backed by sophisticated technologies such as camera trapping, MsTripes, satellite based forest fire alert system. While these are all good news, but rising wildlife coupled with developing transport infrastructure like highways and train tracks has introduced us to new devil - ROADKILL 

Our society right now is at its all time highest point of wildlife awareness. Any poaching incidence is treated with seriousness and fiercely condemned. But what about a roadkill?? although we all feel sad whenever a roadkill news would come, the irony is despite being a larger murderer of wildlife than poachers we somehow don't consider roadkills a serious threat. I have listed some reasons why roadkills are as bigger a threat as poaching for wildlife. 

  • Many sources revealed staggering facts that the number of animals being killed on roadside is more than the number of animals killed by poachers.
  • While poaching is limited to some animal species, road kill has no such limitation.
  • Government agencies, NGO and others are highly vigilant towards poaching incidences which has reduced poaching substantially. Roadkills doesn't attract similar attention.
  • Wildlife count is rising, so are the vehicles, highways. The probability of animal being killed on road is rising exponentially. 

I would like to quote this news titled as 'Cars, not people, kill more pythons in Gujarat'  which should justify the reasons written above. Read it here

US government report says around 10,00,000 (1 million) animals are killed on road each day!! Read it here

In the last few days, as many as 20 elephants, 25 leopards and one tiger have been reported killed after being hit on roads and railway tracks. Few notable recent incidences of roadkill in India:

  • Bajirao - A dominant male Tiger of Bor Tiger Reserve
    Read it here
  • 2 Leopards killed near Amravati (MH) in back to back incidences
    Read it here
  • 2 Indian Gaur killed in Karnataka
    Read it here

Wildlife Institute of India states that Tigers in at least 26 reserves face the destructive impact of roads and traffic. Vidharbha - a home to no less than 200 Tigers may not be able to stop road kills after widening of NH-6, NH-7  and broad-gauze railway track construction between Akola - Khandwa. These three projects together could affect Melghat Tiger Reserve, Pench Tiger Reserve, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Bor Tiger Reserve, Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve, Katepurna wildlife sanctuary, Pohra-Malkhed forest and many more unprotected area.

What can we do to reduce (hopefully eliminate) road kills? I have purposely segregated the solutions in two parts. One for decision makers and other for us - the general public.

My requests to policy makers are:

  • MOST IMPORTANT: Include roadkill prevention measures in Driving License tests
  • Where ever possible, divert road/train tracks away from forest areas
  • Construct under/over passes for wild animals
  • Identify sensitive roadkill zones and construct speed breakers at 500 meters distance
  • Provide a small information booklet with each toll receipt in sensitive zone
  • If road kill happens, clear the carcass ASAP
  • Avoid cutting road side trees, instead build tree canopy along the road so that animals who reside on tree (Ex. Squirrel) can pass the road without coming on ground.

My requests to the general public:

  • Look out for the wildlife crossing signs along the highway, reduce the vehicle speed voluntarily 
  • Don't ever feed animals along the road. 
  • Report the road kills on mobile application 'RoadWatch' developed by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)
  • Stand united, protest against any development project without protective arrangements which may pose a threat to wildlife. Remember, our motto shall be to achieve development equipped with wildlife safety measures. Halting development projects completely is neither practical nor possible.  
  • Teach your children about how a roadkill can be avoided as you teach them basic traffic rules

Ask yourselves, are we protecting our wildlife only to be killed on roads? if the answer is 'No' then help the cause by signing this petition. Remember, signing this petition is just a small step towards reducing roadkills. I request you all to work on-field, with whatever limited capacity you have.

Regards,
Ajinkya Sanap 
Member - Local Advisory Committee 
Melghat Tiger Reserve
Connect with me on Facebook | ajinkya.sanap@gmail.com

 



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