Thursday, June 9, 2016

Finally Concern for Wildlife is Catching up with policy makers

A Wildlife Corridor
During my childhood days, I frequently heard stories about elephants. This was mainly because elephants are very much part of Kerala society. An integral part of temple festivals in Kerala. Depends on how much society is willing to spend for festival, number of elephants will differ - one, three, five, seven, fifteen etc. In some festivals like ‘Thrissur Pooram’ total count even reaches hundred. Some temples own elephants. For e.g. There are more than 65 elephants in ‘Punnaturkotta’ – a place where elephants belong to Guruvayoor temple stays.

One word which stuck me from those stories is – ‘aanathara’ (Elephants Way). Elephants for a very long time use same paths. Many other animals also display the same behavior.

Hence, when humans widen roads to ease traffic (and build new roads to reduce travel time) pushes further down into forests, we often end up cutting those decades old elephant and tiger corridors. As animals continue to use these paths, they often end up as victims of fast moving vehicles. Cutting the corridor will also prevent animals from moving from one habitat to another. This movement is essential to prevent inbreeding and maintaining genetic diversity.

It is in this situation we need to think about NHAI’s recent decision to allocate 186 crores for animal friendly measures while widening Mansar section (Madhya Pradesh/Maharashtra border) of existing NH-7 (2,369 km long connecting Kanyakumari with Varanasi) which cuts across tiger corridors of Pench – Kanha reserves.

Work of widening roads (4 laning) was pending earlier due to absence of permissions for felling trees and wildlife mitigation plans.

Now NHAI came up with three elevated sections of 750m, 750m and 300m length, so that wildlife can move across the highways on their natural paths. In addition to that, there will be six other wildlife crossings as well.

This won't help animals much as there will be sound, air pollution throughout the road (even after construction). In addition to that the length of elevated part is very less. However, this is indeed a small step in right direction.


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedida

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