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Kaziranga elevated corridor plan

Context:

The Assam government is awaiting the Centre’s clearance for an elevated road over nine corridors used by the animals of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve usually during high floods.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the impact of Roads on Wildlife
  2. Possible Solution: Eco Bridges

About the impact of Roads on Wildlife

  • The impact of road developments on biodiversity has become one of the central environmental issues when planning for road infrastructure as India’s protected areas have increasingly come under pressure from an ever-increasing infrastructure network —161 wild animals were killed in road or train accidents in 2018.
  • Linear infrastructures like roads and railways potentially fragment the habitat of wild animals and act as epicentres of fatal accidents for innumerable wild species, small and big.

How does it affect animals?

  • The impact of road developments on biodiversity has become one of the central environmental issues when planning for road infrastructure.
  • Wild animals are vulnerable to vehicular traffic passing through forests, especially at night when, blinded by bright headlights, even swift species like cats freeze.
  • Over time, as animals learn to avoid roads, busy multilane highways become barriers that hinder wildlife movement, fragment populations, and restrict gene flow.
  • By blocking access to potential habitats, roads, railway lines and irrigation canals act as a major contributor to habitat loss.

Possible Solution: Eco Bridges

  • Eco Bridges are wildlife corridors also known as wildlife crossing that are a link of wildlife habitat which connects two larger areas of similar wildlife habitat.
  • Eco Bridges aims at enhancing wildlife connectivity. It connects wildlife populations that would otherwise be separated by human activities or structures such as roads and highways, other infrastructure development, or logging and farming, etc.
  • These are made up of native vegetation i.e., it is overlaid with planting from the area to give a contiguous look with the landscape.
  • Eco-bridges include underpass tunnels, viaducts, and overpasses (mainly for large or herd-type animals); amphibian tunnels; fish ladders; Canopy bridge (especially for monkeys and squirrels), tunnels and culverts (for small mammals such as otters, hedgehogs, and badgers); green roofs (for butterflies and birds).
  • The two main aspects considered in building the eco bridges are size and location. These bridges should be built based on the animals’ movement pattern.

Why eco-bridges matter?

  • They enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways or logging.
  • Many road projects cut across animal corridors. For example, National Highway 37 through the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in Assam, and State Highway 33 through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.

-Source: The Hindu

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December 2022
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