Roadkills: A Citizen Science Initiative

by Milind Pariwakam | WCT
Wildlife mortality on roads and railways is a massive conservation threat
Sheeta Navgire / WCT
This Citizen Science Project endeavours to engage with concerned citizens across the country.

Roadkills: A Citizen Science Initiative: For win-win solutions to minimise wild animal deaths along roads, irrigation canals and railway lines.

Roadkills is a Citizen Science Initiative to collect data on mortality of wild animals on roads, irrigation canals or railway lines in India.

This Citizen Science Project endeavours to engage with concerned citizens across the country. We hope that the data collected will be useful to researchers and infrastructure planners across the country to help in reducing wildlife mortality, install wildlife crossing structures at the identified locations and also improve passenger safety whenever a road / railway line is planned or upgraded.

Roadkills is an initiative by the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and which hopes to democratize data collection. Researchers and infrastructure planners wanting access to data can write to us stating their purpose and the data will be made available under a Creative Commons license.

How many wild animals die on roads in India every year?

The vast majority of wild animals / species (99%) dying on roads are never recorded. Large charismatic mammal deaths such as tigers and elephants dying are recorded but thousands of rare, endangered species of birds, amphibians, small mammals and reptile mortalities go unrecorded.

Roads and railway lines have claimed the lives of at least 16 tigers across India over the last few years. Over 150 wild elephants have died while crossing railway tracks across the country in the last 8-10 years. There is scant data available about other equally rare, endangered and threatened species of amphibians, birds (owls, nightjars, horned larks) and reptiles (king cobra, python) which die in thousands.

Mortalities of other endangered species of mammals such as leopard, sloth bears, wild dogs, wolves, jackals, hyena, Indian fox, honey badgers, otters, langur monkeys as well as herbivores such as Indian gaur, spotted deer, barking deer, nilgai and sambar go unrecorded.

Why is wildlife mortality on roads and railways a big issue?

Our rare, endangered species of wild animals are already threatened by multiple threats such as:

  1. poaching
  2. small populations
  3. forest fires
  4. habitat loss
  5. habitat degradation & habitat fragmentation

Linear infrastructure projects such as roads and railways are the largest man-made structures on the planet and are present everywhere. With further growth in human populations and the demand for higher economic growth the need for more and wider roads and railway lines is only growing. These growing road and rail networks often pass through the forests and kill a lot of wild animals and tend to fragment the forests even more.

What are the solutions?

The negative impacts of such linear infrastructure can be minimised by providing mitigation measures catering to multiple species. But these mitigation measures will only be effective if they are placed at locations frequently used by wild animals.

How will this Citizen Science Campaign be effective?

Long term data on roadkills from different habitat types can help scientists to identify the sites for planning effective mitigation measures. The data collected using this android app by citizens will form a huge database which will help identify right locations for the mitigation measures thus minimising roadlkills.

Who will have access to the database?

The roadkills information collected by citizens will be available for viewing on maps by anyone in the website. Any person (students, wildlife researchers, infrastructure agencies, wanting more detailed access to data for analysis can write to roadkills.india@gmail.com and the data will be shared free of cost under a Creative Commons license.


For more details and questions, contact:

Milind Pariwakam
Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife Conservation Trust
Phone: 9702120316



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