Towards wildlife-friendly roads

Studying and reducing impacts of roads on wildlife in the Anamalai hills

Road widening and related disturbance along with increasing traffic and tourism in the Anamalai hills, has had serious impacts on wildlife. This includes roadkills and disruption of habitats of endangered wildlife. This project aims to understand these effects and identify mitigation and management measures.

  • An endemic and endangered Lion-tailed Macaque Roadkill

  • Canopy Contiguity above the forested road is essential for arboreal mammals

  • Several wild animals such as Nilgiri Tahr uses roads that goes through the forest

  • Native roadside vegetation (left) should be retained to avoid spread of invasive plants (right) in forested region

  • Various types of linear intrusions

  • Sidewalls without break, clearing roadside vegetation disturbs natural habitat and increases wildlife mortality

Roads, wildlife deaths, and habitat disruption

Roads traversing natural areas act as linear intrusions that bring various negative impacts on the ecosystems they pass through. One of the visible impacts is animal mortality due to collisions with vehicular traffic.  In the Anamalai hills and Valparai plateau landscape, widening of roads, increased tourism-related activities, and by fast-plying vehicles have resulted in the death of endangered fauna such as lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, slender loris Loris lyddekerianus, and many birds, endemic reptiles and amphibians. 

We began this study to identify appropriate measures to minimize road mortality of wild animals, reduce related traffic accidents, and to attempt to implement the identified measures with local stakeholders. To do so, we first studied the habitat and seasonal variation in the types and frequency of roadkills due to collisions with vehicular traffic.

Simultaneously, another important objective of this study is to identify critical crossing points of endangered and endemic arboreal and terrestrial fauna. For arboreal species, tree canopy connectivity over the roads is crucial. So, we surveyed the canopy contiguity and gaps at different stretches of roads that go through forest area as this is critical for arboreal mammals. 

Measures for wildlife-friendly roads

Based on the research, a few mitigation measures were identified and suggested to local authorities  for better and wildlife friendly roads in this region.  This included measures to enhance roadside aesthetics and value for wildlife, better roadside vegetation maintenance practices, and steps to minimise impacts on wildlife. This included placing speed breakers at specific identified locations, retaining roadside native vegetation and overhead tree canopy, leaving gaps in the sidewalls along the hill roads to permit smaller animals to safely cross the road, and use of crash-guards that help meet road safety requirements while allowing animals to cross. 

With the quantitative information on the critical crossing points of animals and the knowledge of the canopy contiguity and gaps, seven canopy bridges were installed in two rainforest fragments in Valparai region. Animals such as the lion-tailed macaques (LTM) are already using these bridges and we are continuing to monitor their efficacy. Simultaneously, an LTM-watch project is running to promote awareness and build human - wildlife coexistence where roads run through rainforest fragments in which these endangered primates live.

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Lion-tailed macaque using a canopy bridge in one of the rainforest fragments

People

Funding

  • CEPF-ATREE Western Ghats Small Grants

Publications

  • Popular Article
    2015
    இயற்கையை அழித்து வளர்ச்சியா? (Tamil version of‘The long road to growth’by T. R. Shankar Raman.)
    தி இந்து நாளிதழ், சிந்தனைக் களம், சிறப்புக் கட்டுரை. The Hindu Tamil Op-Ed. 18th April 2015.

    Jeganathan, P. (2015). இயற்கையை அழித்து வளர்ச்சியா?- திஇந்துநாளிதழ், சிந்தனைக் களம், சிறப்புக் கட்டுரை. 18thApril 2015. (Tamil version of ‘The long road to growth’ by T. R. Shankar Raman.) Iyarkaiyai azithu valarchiya?The Hindu Tamil Op-Ed. 18th April 2015. 

    (The Hindu Tamil link hereand personal blog link here

    English version by T R Shankar Raman link here).

  • Popular Article
    2015
    Current ecological concerns in the power sector: options to avoid or minimise impacts
    Pages 89-100 in M N Goswami and P Chaudhry (editors) An Epochal Shift in the Idea of India-Meeting aspirations? IPPAI Knowledge Report, Independent Power Producers Association of India, New Delhi.
    Download

    PDF, 1.36 MB

  • Popular Article
    2015
    Road to perdition
    Neha Sinha, T R Shankar Raman
    Fountain Ink, July 2015, 4(9): 30-44.

    The central government has started relaxing norms that protect the environment in favour of industry and development projects, leading to loss of forests, habitat, and wildlife.

    Available here: http://fountainink.in/?p=7197&all=1

  • Popular Article
    2015
    The long road to growth
    The Hindu, Op-ed Comment, 19 March 2015, Page 9.

    As power lines and roads slice up forest cover, it becomes clear that a knowledge economy must tackle development with a wider perspective than that of mere short-term gains. Available from here: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-long-road-to-growth/article7008158.ece

    In Tamil translation by P. Jeganathan in The Hindu Tamil and here: http://blog.ncf-india.org/2015/04/19/the-long-road-to-growth_tamil-version/

  • Popular Article
    2014
    Integrating ecology and economy
    The Hindu, Op-ed Comment Page, 3 July 2014, page 9.

    For almost every destructive project, there are often alternatives that cause less harm to environment and local communities, and can provide overall long-term benefits.

    Available here: http://www.thehindu.cojamam/opinion/op-ed/integrating-ecology-and-econoajmy/article6170535.ece

  • Popular Article
    2013
    Development minus green shoots
    The Hindu, 13 February 2013

    By exempting some projects on forest land from gram sabha consent, the government has undermined the rights of local communities and their crucial role in protecting the environment.

    Read further here

  • Popular Article
    2012
    காணாமல் போகும் சாலையோர உலகம் (On disappearing roadside trees)
    Puthiya Thalaimurai, Tamil Weekly Magazine, 30 August

    Citation:

    காணாமல் போகும் சாலையோர உலகம். காக்கைக் குருவி எங்கள் ஜாதி தொடர்-8. புதிய தலைமுறை. 30ஆகஸ்டு 2012. [Jeganathan, P. (2012).Kanamal Pogum Salaiyora Ulagam. Kakkai Kuruvi Engal Jathi-Series, Article No.8 Puthiya Thalaimurai. 30th August 2012. (On disappearing roadside trees)]

    Link here

  • Popular Article
    2012
    தேசாந்திரியின்தோற்றப்பிழை. (On the impact of polarized light on Wandering Gliders)
    புதிய தலைமுறை. 23 ஆகஸ்டு 2012. Puthiya Thalaimurai. 23rd August 2012.

    Available here:

    தேசாந்திரியின்தோற்றப்பிழை.காக்கைக்குருவிஎங்கள்ஜாதிதொடர்-7. புதியதலைமுறை. 23 ஆகஸ்டு 2012.[Jeganathan, P. (2012). Desandiriyin Thotrapizai. Kakkai Kuruvi Engal Jathi-Series, Article No.7 Puthiya Thalaimurai. 23rd August 2012. (On the impact of polarized light on Wandering Gliders)]

  • Popular Article
    2012
    முந்தோன்றி மூத்தவரே. (On South Indian Primates)
    புதிய தலைமுறை. 16ஆகஸ்டு 2012. Puthiya Thalaimurai. 16th August 2012.

    Available here:

    முந்தோன்றி மூத்தவரே. காக்கைக் குருவி எங்கள் ஜாதி தொடர்-6. புதிய தலைமுறை.  16ஆகஸ்டு 2012.[Jeganathan, P. 2012. Munthondri Moothavare. Kakkai Kuruvi Engal Jathi-Series, Article No.6 Puthiya Thalaimurai. 16th August 2012. (On South Indian Primates)]

  • Popular Article
    2012
    Of tamarind and tolerance
    The Hindu Magazine, 17 June 2012, page 4.

    Link to this article here.

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