Wildlife represents a significant and valued natural resource in India. Living wild species are like a library of books unread. Unfortunately, due to our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning the library without ever having read its books.
Humans and Wildlife have known to co-exist from hundreds of years ago. But, what happens when humans cross into the boundaries of wildlife?
Development is a key part of any economy. Building new rail and road ways is one of the most important parts of economic development. Roadways joining the rural and urban cities of a state can bring about recognizable changes in either’s living styles. But there is a major disadvantage too.
Most of the rural areas in India lie close to wilderness or Forest resources. Most of our Inter-state highways run through a whole lot of forest areas. (E.g.: Kerala- Karnataka-Tamil Nadu). Jet speed vehicles produce a large number of human casualties and death cases every year. And more than thousands of Road kills too.
I have my hostel located along side the Palghat-Coimbatore national highway; and I , in the resent 3 years have came across more than 30 road kills. Most of them occur in the night, when the vehicles are flying the most, and the drivers fail to recognize the animals that are crossing the road. I have come across several snakes, bird, mammals and amphibians. It is indeed disturbing to find so many of our precious wildlife found crushed over by wheels.
Road Kills, all over India results in the death of thousands of wild specimens. These include a whole lot of rare and unnamed specimens. Numerous wild animals are killed as they try to cross a busy roadway, in search of food or shelter.
Measures that can be taken
Ultrasonic whistles: attached to vehicles to warn wildlife of oncoming traffic;
Overpasses: consisting of rope tied between trees or other structures to allow arboreal animals to cross over the road without coming down to the ground;
Escape routes: moderating obstacles such as batters (roadside ‘cuttings’) to allow animals to move off the road quickly, even when panicked;
Table drain management: reduction of roadside grass and water aiming to reduce the number of animals attracted to the roadside to feed and drink;
Signage (with night-time speed limits): advisory speed limits at least 20 km/h slower than the normal speed limit between dusk and dawn;
Public education: informing people of the negative and dangerous aspects of wildlife road kill and aiming for fauna-friendly driving attitudes.
Underpasses: a variety of structures passing underneath the road to provide an alternate route for wildlife, ranging from small concrete culverts to large bridges
Spanning gullies: Usually used in conjunction with wing fencing;
Reflectors: plastic prisms attached to guideposts, which reflect headlights to prevent wildlife from moving onto roads and to scare wildlife off roads;
Roadside lighting: to produce increased visibility which may discourage wildlife from spending time on the road or roadside and/or improve visibility for drivers;
light-colored road surfacing: to produce a contrast in color between dark animals and a light-colored road, which may discourage wildlife from spending time on the road or roadside and/or improve visibility for drivers; and
Odour repellents: synthetic substance manufactured to mimic canine urine to discourage wildlife from roadsides.
Following these safety measures have shown great reduction in the number of roadkills in many part of the world. Several measures were identified as being likely to reduce wildlife road-kill and/or decreasing visitor distress on account of road-kill. These are: escape routes, table drain (ditch) management, underpasses, wildlife signage, canopy crossings, platypus crossings, chicanes and speed humps, and potentially odour, repellents. In terms of further research, priority should be given to research and monitoring to further our understanding of road kill events and sites, and wildlife behavior in reaction to oncoming traffic. This information will better equip research into wildlife road-kill mitigation measures.