First victim of road upgradation project in national park

First victim of road upgradation project in national park

The incident took place around 2 pm on Sunday amid rains. The Forest Department has registered a case of road kill. Wild dogs are protected under the Schedule- I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

According to environmentalists, such unnatural mortality can have a serious effect on the population dynamics of wide-ranging carnivores like the wild dogs.

In wild dogs, there are only the alpha females and the alpha males. Death of an alpha female will have a deleterious effect on the entire pack.

Wild animals are susceptible to road accidents during rains, when they come under the wheels of speeding vehicles at curves and slopes in forest areas. Even young animals are very susceptible to mortality due to speeding vehicles.

Although the vehicles are not supposed to exceed 30-km speed within the national park limits, the drivers, particularly those of private buses and vegetable transporting vehicles from Kerala, drive recklessly on these stretches.

The road is being upgraded to a high speed highway under the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) which is being implemented by the Project Implementation Unit of the Public Works, Ports and Inland Water Transport Department of the Karnataka Government. The contractors of the agency were so vehement in laying the road through the national park, they even took law into their own hands.

Protesters attacked
Last May when the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), appointed by the Supreme Court, had come on an inspection of the road, anti-social elements were brought to attack people who were opposing the road. A police case was booked and the accused were warned by the police department. Interestingly the National Board for Wildlife had cleared the project with frivolous conditions such as no rubbish should be left within the national park, road workers should be educated about wildlife, etc.

Only after the Karnataka Forest Department, the Principal Secretary, Forest Ecology and Environment along with conservationists took the case seriously more checks and scientifically designed speed calming measures were suggested.

Adverse effects
Roads affect ecosystems, biological communities and species in numerous ways.
Roads, especially highways, can have significant impact on wildlife behaviour, survival and movement of animals by acting as physical barriers.
They also fragment and isolate wildlife populations directly affecting the genetic diversity of a population. Wider roads and highways impact movement of animals.
There is a need to keep away high speed roads from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the State.