While a directive of the Supreme Court to study the possibilities of developing the Mananthavady- Gonikoppal Mysuru road as an alternative route to the Kozhikode-Kollegal National Highway 766 is a topic of discussion, a recent study has found that wildlife roadkills on the alternative road is one of the highest in the country.
The Mananthavady - Gonikoppal Mysuru road passes through the Tholpetty forest range of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. The forest range, with an extent of 77 sq km, is also a major tiger habitat.
The study was conducted by Dhaneesh Bhaskar, researcher at the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), under the guidance of P.S. Easa, former director, KFRI.
“For large animals such as tigers and elephants, roads and railroads hardly pose any physical barrier. Most mammals, however, are sensitive to disturbances by humans. Smell, noise, and vehicle movement as well as experiences from human encounters may deter the animals from approaching the road corridor,” Mr. Bhaskar said.
He said amphibians, reptiles, birds, and lower mammals had been considered the most affected taxa owing to transport infrastructure.
The eight-month study recorded 2,426 roadkills during the period, including amphibians (2,213), reptiles (153), and mammals 57. Three birdkills were also recorded.
The 2,426 kills belonged to 42 species, which include eight species of amphibians, 19 species of reptiles, two species of birds, and 13 species of mammals. The highest number of roadkill was observed in September, he said.
Reasons for roadkill
“It is suspected that the major reason for the roadkills on the alternative route is the unrestricted vehicle movements, especially during night hours, after the night traffic ban was introduced on NH 766 since 2009,” Mr. Bhaskar said.
Moreover, the officials concerned were yet to consider to set up speed breakers on the route to curb the menace, he added.