Killer highway claims another cobra.
THE Aurad-Sadashivgad State Highway (SH-34), which passes through the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve in northwest Karnataka, has claimed its 50th victim -- the endangered king cobra. The man-animal conflict is on the rise in this area even as the forest department officials turn a blind eye.
Incidentally, this is the sixth king cobra to be killed on the busy highway in the past two years. The conservationists are pleading the government to regulate the movement of vehicles inside the tiger reserve but to no effect. Their pleas to impose a ban on the movement of vehicles on the highway in the night have also been in vain.
In the last six years, approximately 50 different animals, including gaur, sloth bear, sambar, chital, muntjac, wild pig, langur, and eight leopards, have come under the wheels of speeding vehicles passing through the Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and the adjoining reserve forests of Uttara Kannada and Belagavi districts.
"This a fit case for night time traffic to be banned, especially on the Aurad-Sadashivgad
Sadashivgad State Highway, as trucks, buses and private vehicles use the road 24x7. If the headcount of other reptiles and amphibians are accounted for, the number of deaths on this road reaches dismal proportion. The forest department should implement simple mitigation measures, such as, providing wildlife crossing structures and increasing driver awareness to reduce these unnatural deaths," said wildlife activist Giridhar Kulkarni.
The Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve, with a healthy population of tigers, shockingly, has 14 major public access roads passing through it, and they cause tremendous disturbance to the wildlife and their habitat.
The Aurad-Sadashivgad State Highway, in particular, has turned into a death trap for wild animals. "In the recent years, leopards, chital, wild pig, brown palm civet, leopard cat, small Indian civet, langur, and bonnet macaque have been killed by motorists," Kulkarni pointed out.
The latest incident involving the death of a king cobra has worried the conservationists.
The Western Ghats in Karnataka are one of the best habitats for these serpents.
"As the world's largest venomous snake, the king cobra, is protected under schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act.
Their population has declined in the recent years due to loss of habitat," Kulkarni said.
The sixth cobra to be killed on this stretch in two years
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