A leopard tentatively crosses the Mysore – Mananthavadi highway in Nagarahole national park and tiger reserve in Karnataka. Based on the fact that this road passes through an extremely crucial habitat for elephants and tigers and number of tragic roadkills, conservationists filed an application to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court to close the road to nighttime traffic.
The CEC on 05-05-2008 concluded that no vehicular traffic be permitted between 6pm and 6am apart from other mitigation measures like construction of underpasses and speed calming measures. The recommendations of the CEC were accepted by the Supreme Court on 10-11-2008 which also made it mandatory that the conditions as recommended by the CEC must be fulfilled. This included, among other things, the closure of the Road between 6pm and 6am.
Further, the Mysore District Commissioner (DC) also imposed a nighttime ban on vehicular traffic on 11-07-2008.
Roads and highways through protected areas pose a severe conservation threat. Take the case of Karnataka — 9 (of the 15) national highways pass through important wildlife habitats in the Western Ghats, while 28 state highways (out of 151) pass through the Ghats. The primary challenge to nighttime road closures are from vested interests and lobby groups involved in nefarious activities such as timber smuggling, wildlife poaching, sandmining and illegal movement of livestock.