From Killer Roads to Humane Highways

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A 17-minute conservation film on the impact of roads and highways on wildlife.

The rapid expansion of roads and highways through Protected Areas and corridors is one of the most serious threats facing India’s wildlife today.

In this context, we are pleased to announce the release of a powerful conservation film on this topic by wildlife and conservation filmmaker, Shekar Dattatri.

‘From Killer Roads to Humane Highways’ addresses the adverse impacts of roads and highways on wildlife, and showcases some … Read More

Tragic Loss of a Tusker, Kaziranga

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On September 4th 2015, a bull elephant that was part of a larger herd was electrocuted when it walked into a live, low-hanging power cable at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The herd was trying to reach higher ground in order to escape from floods that had inundated over 80% of the park.

Wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur, who was in Kaziranga at the time, recounted details of the accident. Years of waterlogging had eroded the base of the electric … Read More

Great Indian Bustard — The Way of the Dodo?

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On the afternoon of 15th September, a farmer in the Karamba village in Solapur, Maharashtra was grazing his cattle when he noticed a large, severely injured bird on the ground, its wings singed. Hovering by, helping death to strike were a few feral dogs. As he edged closer, he saw a black mobile like device on the prone creature. He knew the bird, a frequent visitor to his fields from the adjacent Nanaj sanctuary, and immediately informed the forest department. … Read More

Roads to prosperity? Not for the Jackal.

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Roads. Possibly the most common habitat in India today. On March 31, 2018, India had 6,603,293km of roads or 1.70km of roads per square kilometre of area (according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways). It is the second largest road network in the world. Unfortunately, the most common habitat is very often not the refuge of the living. Roads take away crucial habitat from wildlife, often planned at the expense of our biodiversity-rich forests and countryside. They also … Read More

Bor Tiger Reserve’s Dominant Male (T2) Road-killed on NH-6

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During the night of 29-Dec-2017, an adult male tiger T2 from Bor Tiger Reserve fell prey to the killer highway NH-6 that cuts the vital corridor between Bor and Melghat Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra. Despite repeated appeals by conservationists no mitigation structures were built on the highway. Read TOI Nagpur report on the incident. T2, King of Bor (affectionately known as Bajirao), was about 8-years old and in his prime. He often shuttled between Bor and Kalmeshwar, which is … Read More

Bustard, Wires, and the Flight to Extinction

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On behalf of the Bustard Conservation Team, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

This article is an outcome of Wildlife Institute of India’s ongoing research and conservation activities under the Great Indian Bustard Conservation Project investigated by Yadvendradev Jhala. The team members are, apart from the author, Sujit Narwade, Tushna Karkaria, Bipin C.M., Arjun Awasthi, Mohib Uddin, Devendradutta Pandey, Tanya Gupta, Sourav Supakar, Vineet Singh, Priyamvada Bagaria, Srinivas Y. and Shaheer Khan.

Much of India’s conservation movement has focused on forested … Read More

Going Nowhere? Roads and Conservation in India

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The ongoing controversy about widening National Highway 7 (NH7) has highlighted the inevitable trade-offs in conservation and development. Conservation groups and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been at logger-heads. The former contend that widening the parts of NH7 that pass through Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserves will further fragment an important wildlife refuge and corridor. NHAI opposed the high costs of wildlife-friendly mitigation measures, and agreed to build underpasses and overlays only after the Supreme Court’s intervention. Nonetheless, … Read More

Small Dams, Big Problems – Join the Campaign

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Small hydropower projects (SHPs) or mini hydels are propagated as an environmentally friendly and socially beneficial option to meet our rising energy demands. Hence, according to the EIA notification, SHPs (capacity not more than 25MW) do not require an environmental clearance, and are legally exempt from environmental impact assessments and public hearing in India. In fact, the government usually grants substantial subsidies and financial incentives to such ‘green initiatives’. However, this notion of SHPs having minimal or no adverse impacts … Read More

Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

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This is an image of the railway line cutting through the Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, taken in Feb 2012. One needs to understand the behaviour of Hoolock Gibbons and the habitat to understand the destruction caused by the railway line.

Hoolock Gibbons are the only apes found in India (apart from a billion humans of course!). They have long forelimbs and shorter hind limbs which are very conducive for these animals to move around the forest by swinging along the … Read More

Book Review: The Handbook of Road Ecology

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Title: The Handbook of Road Ecology

Editors: Rodney van der Ree; Daniel Smith and Clara Grilo

Summary:

Linear infrastructure, such as roads, railways, power lines, pipelines, tracks and trails and the vehicles that travel on them are critical to supporting economic growth and development. However, the ecological impacts of linear infrastructure and vehicles can be massive, and usually negative. These impacts include habitat loss, fragmentation of habitats and populations, mortality of wildlife due to collision with vehicles, … Read More

Electric Lines Through Protected Areas

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During a recent trip to Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, we noticed a few common langurs at play. We paused for a few minutes to observe them jumping around trees, very close to some electric lines running beside the road. Suddenly, one of the excited Langurs jumped straight on to the wires. Unfortunately, it touched two wires at the same time. There was a big spark, which threw the langur off. As it fell to the ground and lay still, … Read More

Electrocuted Great Indian Bustard, Kutch

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On 12th September 2014, an adult female Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) collided with high-tension electric powerlines near Kutch Bustard Sanctuary (KBS) in the Abdasa taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat. The bird was found dead just below the powerlines and had electrocution marks. The incident happened a few hundred meters from the boundary of KBS. There are three heavy powerlines passing by the Lala-Jakhau main road, two lines on one side and one on the other. The bird … Read More

Saving Demoiselle Cranes, Khichan, Rajasthan

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Every year, thousands of Demoiselle Cranes visit Khichan village in the Rajasthan desert during winter. They arrive by October-November and stay on till the end of March. Khichan and the areas around were filled with open high tension wires. Every time these beautiful cranes flew, they would come in contact with these high tension wires and die. The images show such electrocuted cranes.

A Khichan native — Sevaram Malli Parihar — took it upon himself to get these high tension … Read More

Elephant Conflict, Odisha

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Human-elephant conflict is turning increasingly acute across elephant range in India. Relentless diversion of elephant habitats, loss of forest corridors that offer safe passage to migrating elephants, activities such as mining, construction of canals, railway tracks and highways that fragment forests, and even the ill-designed plantation of unpalatable trees in natural forests are together creating a deadly situation where direct, extremely volatile face offs between people and elephants have become a matter of routine. The loss of human life and … Read More

Power Lines: Threat to the Great Indian Bustard

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Avian mortality due to collision with power lines is one of the leading causes of decline in the population of several species of birds, globally. This includes bustards and diurnal raptors. Thus an increase in the number of power lines in the bustard habitat at various Indian sites is a growing concern. These developments in the human landscape pose a challenge to the conservation of these bird species.

There were two reported incidents which led to the actual death of … Read More

Q: My question is about the roads which are shut during the night time in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks in Karnataka, why can’t we shut these roads completely? I know there was a great struggle to even shut these roads during night time. But with the will and constant fight against the evil powers, your case study has shown how it can be handled. Alternate roads can be developed far away from forest range easily if Government has the willingness to do so. I have left my comment below your case study as well, please advice whether my words make sense or not.

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Answer from Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First:

Your comment on developing alternative alignments to roads that cut through Wildlife Reserves is valid. A lot of effort has been put in by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) to address this issue. There have been many interventions by Courts as well. So, we are moving forward but we cannot completely close down roads/highways since that would antagonise society, which will lead to the loss of public support for conservation. … Read More

Dangers to Wildlife due to Railway Tracks

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The laying of railway tracks is considered crucial to the economic development of a region, and has for the past several centuries been actively encouraged. Being human-centric, political thought has always considered the felling of forests, and clearing of lands to lay railway lines. Technology improvements that allow for ecological considerations are not implemented, and less-than-ideal practices are often followed to this day. In this regard, even the widening of the track gauges can have an adverse effect on ecology.… Read More

Walayar — Walking on Knife’s Edge

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This image was shot at 1209 hrs on 13th Oct 2012, at km 510/21 on the B-line of the Palakkad- Coimbatore railway line, a kilometre away from the Walayar Railway station, in Kerala. The B-line, which has been laid through the Walayar Reserve forest, bisects an elephant corridor. More than thirty elephants have been killed / maimed during the last two decades (see post on calf being run over), due to speeding trains between Kanjikode and Madukkarai (a … Read More

A Jungle-striped squirrel runover by a speeding vehicle

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This image was taken along the Aliyar – Valparai ghat road on 29th March 2013 in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Speeding two wheelers and cars on these roads pose a serious threat to this lesser known species of the Western Ghats. These squirrels had to cross the road to reach another patch of shola forest amidst tea estates. We saw another Jungle-striped Squirrel nearby. Further up, the same road turns killer to the endangered Lion-tailed macaques which … Read More

Electrocuted Elephant, Nagarahole

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This magnificent tusker was electrocuted on Nov 12th, 2012, around 1 a.m., in Balle Range in the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. The elephant was frequently seen in the area and was known to have sight in only one eye. As it was attempting to cross a tribal village, it appears to have entangled in a triangular section formed by an electric pole and the guy wires holding it up. The elephant’s attempts to free itself seem to have brought the guy … Read More

Palamu’s Killer Tracks

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One of the biggest threats to the wildlife of Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR), spread over an area of 1130 sq.kms in West-Central Jharkhand, has been the New Delhi-Ranchi Railway line that slices through the Tiger Reserve’s core ranges of East & West Chhipadohar over a distance of 8 kms. About 70 trains — both passenger and freight — ply on this busy rail route everyday (these lines have been in existence before Palamu’s notification as a Tiger Reserve in 1973). … Read More

Linear Intrusions, Electricity and Elephants

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This was photographed by my colleague N. Suresh on the way to Mysore from Munnar in a place called “shooting spot” near Munnar where a lot of movie shootings happen. He took this interesting image and shared it with me to post on Conservation India.

The image, while it looks “green”, has hardly anything wild about it — cleared mountain slopes, exotic plantation all around and transmission lines right through it. The image conveys the serious treats to these elephants … Read More

Flamingo City Campaign Update — NBWL Clears Road Project

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Campaign Update July 2013

The road proposal whose ecological damages CI highlighted in this campaign was unanimously and strongly rejected by all members of the MOEF constituted Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on June 6th, 2013. The project was rejected on grounds that it was having a serious impact on the wildlife of the fragile Kutch region particularly the nesting site of flamingoes.

Mudumalai Masinagudi Road Teeming With Vehicles

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This road teems not just with crossing wild animals, but also vehicle traffic. In an attempt to catch a glimpse of the wild, vehicles often stop, blocking the road for other vehicles. Sometimes people go to the extent of annoying animals, like elephants, to get pictures and videos of “mock charges”, attacks and so on. I have personally observed an elephant calf get separated from its mother, unable to cross the road. The mother had to charge and drive vehicles … Read More

Highway traffic, Nagarahole

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A two-wheeler bringing fresh fish from Kerala into Karnataka. Traffic starts on the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway in Nagarahole national park at the stroke of dawn. Conservationists successfully closed the highway from 6pm to 6am. Despite the many obvious problems posed by roads through wildlife areas, more roads are being planned in Nagarahole (and through other protected areas of Karnataka), by the state government.

Read related case study of night time highway closure though Bandipur Tiger Reserve.… Read More