Roadkill – the innocent victims of speed
A commentary on the duality of human nature – when men go to the jungles to see animals in their natural habitat, and yet, they destroy said habitat as well as endanger the lives of the animals with their rash driving and inconsiderate behavior.
Speed causes death frequently, and often, it is the innocent who pays the price. Driving ‘mindlessly’ without paying attention to the movements of wildlife on the roads causes major damage. Wildlife often suffers major injuries due to reckless driving. A large number of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are killed on the world’s roads every day. Almost all the National Parks in India, as well as worldwide nature reserves and sanctuaries which have roads or National highways through the forests often face this problem.
These days it is a common problem in some tourist spots in Dooars. Buxa Tiger Reserve, Chilapata forest, Gorumara National Park and Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary are popular tourist destinations. Buxa and Chilapata lie in Alipurduar district, while Gorumara and Chapramari both are spread in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. The road that connects Jayanti with Alipurduar via Rajabhatkhawa passes through the core of Buxa. Similarly, a road that connects Coochbehar district town with Hasimara town passes through Chilapata Forest which is an extension of Jaldapara National Park. Jhalong-Bindu, a very popular hill destination can be reached through the core of Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. Tourists from all over India visit these wildlife hotspots from October to May. During these months, heavy traffic occurs on these roads. Most of the tourist vehicles run very fast through these roads. Some of them not only drive recklessly but often park their vehicles in front of wild animals to capture close-up images and videos with their mobile phones. The signboards showing the rules and regulations installed by the Forest Department beside the road are mostly ignored by the populace. The reckless driving of the vehicles often result in accidents where not only human beings are injured, but wildlife is endangered, leading to loss of life of avifauna.
Our developing country is trying to improve the communication channels so that the people of each and every corner of the country can easily reach the nearest towns or cities to fulfil their needs. Although improvement of infrastructure is always welcome, we have to ascertain that our development doesn’t hurt or affect the habitats of wildlife. It is true that we need ‘speed’ in our busy schedule, but speed used as a source of entertainment causes major damage to the society. Often tourists come to the forest to see wildlife in their natural habitat but have loud music playing inside their cars. We expect common sense from the responsible citizens – to not shout loudly or tune-up the music in the silent zones of Reserved forests, as it directly or indirectly effects on wildlife. Despite the forest department working to spread awareness among the visitors, by showing various advertisements like signboards, posters or banners beside the roads inside the forests, very few visitors follow the rules and guidelines. Bodies of small mammals, birds and reptiles hit or run over by vehicles are often found on the roads. We should follow certain rules like ‘Speed limit’ or ‘No horn’ to avoid collision with wildlife. After all, the rich diversity belongs to us and it is our duty to save them.
Cover Photo: Monitor Lizard
Read also: Elephants crossing – Roads most travelled
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