Kerala

Greens for night traffic ban on NH 766

A tigress, with her cubs, waiting by the side of NH 766 in the the Bandipur National Park. A photograph taken by wildlife photographer Benny Ajantha last week.

A tigress, with her cubs, waiting by the side of NH 766 in the the Bandipur National Park. A photograph taken by wildlife photographer Benny Ajantha last week.  

Habitat of two endangered species — Bengal tiger and Asiatic elephant

Benny Ajantha, award-winning wildlife photographer from Pathanamthitta, could not resist slowing down his vehicle at the sight of a tigress and her cubs waiting by the wayside to cross National Highway 766 in the Bandipur National Park late last week.

A known wildlife enthusiast and lensman, Benny, moved by the plight of the big cat, bats for a ban on motor vehicles on roads passing through highly protected tiger and elephant reserves.

Talking to The Hindu on the occasion of World Wildlife Day on March 3, Mr. Benny recalls a previous incident in which he sighted a herd of sambars and elephants crossing a road after an impatient wait for some time owing to frequent passage of vehicles.

Dusk-to-dawn ban

M.N. Jayachandran, Kerala State Wildlife Board member, and C.S. Dharmaraj, environmental activist from Wayanad, back the demand for a dusk-to-dawn ban on night traffic in the highly protected areas of reserve forests to save the wild fauna from speeding vehicles.

According to them the demand from various quarters for lifting the night traffic ban on NH 766 betrays the ignorance of people on the need for wildlife and environment conservation. The Bandipur forest is the natural habitat of the Bengal tiger and Asiatic elephant, two endangered species.

The 272-km NH 766 connects Kozhikode and Kollegal in Karnataka and 34 km of the road passes through ecologically sensitive forests in Wayanad and the core areas of the Bandipur reserve in Karnataka.

Wildlife roadkills

The ban on night traffic on the road was ordered invoking provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act in 2009 in an effort to check wildlife roadkills in the area, says Mr. Dharmaraj.

The situation is not much different on the road passing through the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Idukki. Though the speed limits on this forest road have been restricted to 30 km an hour, speeding trucks and tipper lorries had run over as many as 85 wild animals in a short span of six months from January to June in 2016, Mr Jayachandran says.

Killing of animals

Mr. Benny says there are reports of killing of nocturnal animals such as tiger, elephant calf, sambar, etc., by speeding vehicles on the Bandipur forest stretch during the pre-ban period and hence strict enforcement of the ban is a must in the interest of eco-conservation.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:57:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/greens-for-night-traffic-ban-on-nh-766/article30966236.ece

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