Monday, November 9, 2009

Road Mortality: A Threat To Herpetofauna

The increase in road network throughout India has led to the increase in the road mortality of our Wildlife. This is greater in concern with our herpetofauna. The development in any area leads to increase in road network. The effect of these changes on the landscape effect fragile habitats such as the forests of the Western Ghats. Highways that pass through forested areas are a major cause for habitat fragmentation. This leads to the death of several species of amphibians and reptiles while crossing roads, when moving from one habitat to another. The effect of road mortality is greatest for endangered and endemic species of amphibians and reptiles.
During several visits to forests of the Western Ghats and surrounding areas, I have observed several road killed specimens. Several species of reptiles such as the Kerala Shieldtail (Uropeltis celynicus), Bronzeback (Dendrilaphis sp), Vine Snakes (Ahetulla nasuta), Wolf Snakes (Lycodon sp), Kukri Snakes (Oligodon sp), and Indian Garden Lizards (calotes versicolor) were found dead on the roads. Amphibians such as the Common Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), Indian Bull Frog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) and Bicoloured Frog (Clinotarsus curtipes) were regularly found dead on roads. Most of the species found dead on the roads were nocturnal. Maximum road kills were observed after heavy rains. By understanding the regularities of road mortality of herpetofauna with respect to the changes in the environment, it is possible to take measures to control road mortality. Though a few studies have been carried out in few places in Tamil nadu, a detailed study throughout the Western Ghats is needed.
Most biologists may agree that many species of amphibians and reptiles need protection but, where the general public is concerned, reptile and amphibian conservation has a low priority. This attitude of the people can be changed only by educating them about the importance and the role that reptiles and amphibians play in our ecosystem. I consider education to be a synonym of conservation because unless we educate people about the importance of amphibians and reptiles, conserving them is next to impossible. Other ways to reduce herpetofaunal road mortality are by reducing vehicle traffic in forested areas during peak seasons and by finding alternative routs avoiding forested areas while moving from one place to another. So next time we see a road killed amphibian or reptile lets try to understand more about it rather than just complain, so that we can try and reduce road mortality of herpetofauna.

1 comment:

  1. vivek great work done by you....keepit up, my best wishes are with you always. thanksfor sharing great western ghat......parag dandge.