Environmentalists fume at night traffic in Bandipur sanctuary

A bison in Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary

Hours ahead of the ban coming into effect Wednesday night, the state government said the decision is on hold.
"It's a sad development, it is anti-environment and wildlife. Because of the large-scale traffic movement right through the middle of Bandipur, especially during night hours, many animals have been killed," Hari Somashekar, an environmentalist, said.
"I oppose the government's decision. Traffic movement should be completely banned in Bandipur at night," he said.
Somashekar is director, publicity and awareness,  Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS), a wildlife and environment group working for animal protection in Bandipur.
The government's move to keep in abeyance its decision follows pressure from traders, the transport lobby and tourist operators, as they use the route mostly during night hours.
The sanctuary covering 874.20 sq km is situated right on the border connecting three southern states - Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa directed the forest department not to implement the ban proposed from Wednesday after several leaders, including Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, spoke to him.
Private transporters and tourist operators in the three states have also been demanding that the ban be not  implemented.
"The forest department will hold talks with officials in Tamil Nadu and Kerala before a final decision is taken," the Karnataka chief minister's spokesperson said.
The Karnataka forest department had proposed the ban on night vehicular movement along the national highway through Bandipur to save animals from being killed by speeding trucks, buses and vans.
Although the forest department does not have a record of the number of animals killed in such road accidents, experts believe every year dozens of animals fall victim to speeding vehicles at night.
Wildlife enthusiasts and environmentalists assert that animal casulaties from road accidents have been higher than poaching cases in recent years.
The Mysore-Ooty national highway running through Bandipur serves as an animal corridor and several animals have been killed while crossing the road at night. The animals killed include deer, wild pigs and sloth beer.
"This shows the lack of willpower on the part of the government to protect the environment," said Laxmeesha Acharya, a Bangalore-based environmentalist.
Wildlife photographer and environmentalist Dinesh Kumble, the elder brother of cricketer Anil Kumble, said: "If the ban is not implemented we'll loose several of our wild population. Hope the government takes a decision to save the animals from falling prey to road accidents."

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