Kerala

Safety cover for wild animals on NH stretch

The fragmentation of forest areas and the resultant roadkills on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway (NH 85) had prompted authorities to make canopy bridges for grizzled giant squirrels in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary nearly five years back.

It has become a model for the other wildlife sanctuaries with the authorities constructing canopy bridges for simian population between Karimutty and the Tamil Nadu forest area of the national highway.

Now, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has drawn up a special project to avoid roadkill on the Poopara-Devikulam stretch of the NH, which includes earthen ramps for wild elephants and canopy bridges for Nilgiri tahrs.

Rex Felix, NHAI assistant executive engineer, said nearly 10 spots had been identified for elephants ramps. He said a canopy bridge (overbridge) would be constructed at the entry point between two hills on Gap Road for the smooth movement of Nilgiri tahrs.

The project would be implemented in association with the Forest Department and speed restrictions would be considered on spots identified for animal crossings. The works would be part of the road widening works, he said.

During summer

Increase in roadkills had been reported at night during summer seasons, when animals cross the road for water from the river on the opposite side.

A forest official at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary said roadkills had come down considerably after canopy bridges were built and speed breakers were laid on the sanctuary area of the highway.

Munnar Divisional Forest Officer M.V.G Kannan said nearly 50 spots had been identified as regular passage of wild animals. There would be medians at spots identified as elephant crossings, he added.

“With the fragmentation of animal corridors, chances of animals, especially elephants, reaching habitations and causing damage are high. The project includes construction of a bridge at Mathikettan, in addition to the one at Gap Road for Nilgiri tahrs,” he added.

It has been found that once canopy bridges were constructed for tufted langur in the Chinnar sanctuary, other animals also started using them for crossing the road.

The protection of animal crossings has become a necessity in view of the increased traffic after the road widening works.

The Munnar and Chinnar wildlife sanctuaries have been identified as an exclusive natural habitat of Nilgiri tahr, grizzled giant squirrel, star tortoise, and many reptile species.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 1:10:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/safety-cover-for-wild-animals-on-nh-stretch/article33164114.ece

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