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Wednesday, April 11

Roads affect large mammal movement in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, says a study

Indian Elephant, Elephas maximus indicus,Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka elephant, Indian wildlife
An Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), crossing a  patrolling path at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India
 Constructing roads through protected areas will severely affect the wild life, reveals a recent study conducted on the Mysore- Mananthavady Highway which passes through Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, a major home for the big striped cat in South India.  According to the study, the road has caused certain large mammals to desert the adjoining areas while making some others more prone to be victims of road kill.

Comparing an abandoned segment with another one regularly used by the vehicles within a 20 KM distance, it was found that large mammals like Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Gaur(Bos garus) , Chital (Axis axis), Wild pig (Sus scrofa) and Tiger tend to avoid the road edges restricting themselves to other forest areas.

This does not mean that animals don’t usually use that place, but just avoid it. The study has found that 681 animal trails have intersected the portion of the road under study. However, the mean density of animal trails on the unused segment was 40 percent more than that in the used segment, indicating that the road is restricting natural wild life movement.

Swelling vehicle traffic

The study observed a startling 22 fold increase in vehicular traffic on this road which connects Wayanad district of Kerala with Mysore district of Karnataka, in seven years despite a traffic ban in the night.

According to Sanjay Gubbi, H. C. Poornesha and M. D. Madhusudan from Nature Conservation Foundation and Wild life Conservation Society who conducted the study, vehicle density was 50 per day in 2003, when traffic was allowed all the 24 hours. Now it has reached a massive 553 a day despite a 12 hour traffic ban.

Roads thrills but kills
Nagarhole Tiger reserve, roads through tiger reserve, Nagarhole map,
Roads passing through Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka
However, it was also found that large mammals like Sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) are not repelled by roads. This is due to the presence of grass and tender leaves in the road edges due to the routine clearance by the forest department, says the study.

The routine clearance along road edges creates micro habitats which attracts many herbivores, making them more prone to road kills. According to experts, this is the major reason why herbivores like Sambar deer, chital, mouse deer (Moschiola meminna), black naped hare (Lepus
nigricollis) and small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) becomes the top names in road kills near protected areas.

Better EIAs and measures

The findings of the study call for immediate measures to check over speeding on such roads which is a major reason for animal death from vehicle collision. It also demands effective implementation of scientifically designed animal crossing structures across such roads.

But above all, the need of the hour is to conduct long-term environment impact assessments even after completion of developmental initiatives to find out unforeseen impacts. If we hurry again under the false notion of development to become a global power, we may commit irreversible mistakes to the future generations by swiping away the remaining biodiversity of our nation.

Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (Video)


  1. Dear Sirs,



    Night ban imposed on the roads leading to Kerala from Karnataka ie.the Gundalpet-Sulthan Batheri(NH 212);Gundalpet-Gudalur(NH 67) and the Antharsanthe -Bavali section of the Mysore-Mananthavady(SH 33) road is causing untold hardships and miseries to lacs of people. All these roads pass through the wild Life Sanctuaries of Bandipur,Muthumalai ,Wayanad and Nagarhole for more than 30 KMs.The other Road to Kerala from Mysore to Kannur (and Thalassery )also has to cross the Thithimathi Elephant Corridor and the Virajpet-Makkutta forests which fall under the Brahmagiri and Wild life Sanctury for more than 30 KMs altogether, causing many environmental and ecological issues. All these sanctuaries have been declared Tiger Reserves and Highly sensitive ecological zones. These Sancturies are habitats of several critically endangered species.Man-Animal conflicts are very very rampant on these regions.It is imperative that wild Life,Forest Wealth and Environment be protected and conserved.Just recently the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests has classified and declared the Bandipur National Park as a Ecologically Sensitive Zone(ESZ) and a very very important ecological region.The Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary also is shortly going to be declared as a Tiger Reserve.

    Earlier before imposing the night ban , the Central Empowered Committee constituted by the Hon.Supreme Court had suggested about finding an alternate road so that a permanent solution could be made.

    I can propose a viable route avoiding the Wild life areas .The existing Mysore-Mananthavady road, if realigned a little to go from Antharsanthe via Hosa Holalu- Karapur-Jaggalli-Gundathur-Machur-Dodda Byranakuppe to reach Bavali, the State border, Forest areas could be almost avoided.These cluster of villages altogether has got a population of more than 20000 belonging to the most backward classes. This route does not fall neither under the Bandipur nor Nagarhole Wild life sanctury limits.Wherever Animal Crossings are there , in this route ,as they visit the Kabini River sometimes to quench thirst, in a stretch between Jaggalli and Machur spanning about 3 KMs, underpasses could be constructed which would not hamper their free movements.

    Already the Bavali-Mysore --Kunigal -Tumkur-Kortagere Road has been declared as State highway 33 by the Govt.of Karnataka.If this road is to be realigned as suggested here, the distance would increase only by about 6 KMs ,but forest areas could be avoided.In the Kerala sector also wild Life regions could be avoided if the Bavali-Mananthavady road is realigned via Shanamangalam-Palvelicham,Payyamaplli.This road could then be upgraded as a National Highway by extending it to Vatakara from Bavali via Palvelicham-Payyamapalli- Mananthavady -Kunjome-Vilanagad to avoid the wild life regions in Kerala and to Penukonda near Puttaparthy in Andhra from Korategere . This would then provide unlimited connectivity to entire South India as this NH would interconnect the NH 17(Kochi-Mangalore-Panvel-Mumbai), SH 17(Bengaluru-Mysuru),NH 48(Bengaluru-Mangalore),NH 4 (Bengaluru-Pune) and NH 7 (Bengaluru-Hyderabad) .

    Simultaneously the Hassan-Arakalgud-Somawarpet-Madikeri-Siddapura-Gonikoppa-Ponnampet-Kutta-Tholpetty-Aranappara-Appappara-Panavalli--Mananthavady road also may be upgraded as National Highway and improved.There are no core forests and this bypasses the Nagarhole and Tholpetty wild life sancturies.

    1. this means the wild life tours are only for the super rich staying in the posh lodges on the kabini. not for the common man. close the road and make money by safaris conducted only by expensive jungle lodges.


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