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‘Eco-passages’ and other lessons on curbing roadkill

An estimated 10,000 wild animals — representing more than 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds — were crushed to death annually on a 3.6 km, two-lane road that passes through a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in Canada.



wild life
File Photo

New Delhi, May 27: An estimated 10,000 wild animals — representing more than 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds — were crushed to death annually on a 3.6 km, two-lane road that passes through a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in Canada.

Not any more.

With $2.7 million in government and private funding, a 10-year community-led project on Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario has used special fencing, “eco passages” and public awareness campaigns to dramatically reduce “fatal interactions” between vehicles and wildlife.

The project holds lessons for India where roadkill mortality of wild animals, especially tigers and elephants, is common.

As recently as last month, 31 wild vultures feeding on a cow on a rail track in Jorbeer — the largest vulture site in Asia that falls on the migratory route of raptors from Eurasia and Mongolia — in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district, were killed when a train mowed them down.

A paper of the Canadian success story, “Mitigating Reptile Road Mortality”, published on Friday in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin, estimates that 89 percent fewer turtles and 28 percent fewer snakes now venture onto the road.

The road, or causeway, separates Long Point Bay and the marshy wetlands of Big Creek National Wildlife Area, all part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

While amphibians were by far the most common casualties, the biggest concern was the number of dead reptiles, particularly at-risk and endangered species such as Blanding’s turtles, snapping turtles, Eastern foxsnakes and others.

“With most of the causeway now fully fenced, the average number of turtles venturing onto the road has dropped by 89 percent and snake numbers are down 28 percent,” Chantel Markle, a McMaster University biologist who led a research project, said.

Markle and her co-investigators also studied wildlife activity in several aquatic and terrestrial culverts — special tunnels of different sizes and materials constructed under the causeway to allow the natural movement of turtles, snakes and other animals.

This project can be replicated in other areas that report roadkill.

Co-investigator Scott Gilling water, a species-at-risk biologist with the Upper Thames Valley Conservation Authority, said: “The success story documented in our study is very important because it offers a model that can be used and adapted in other areas where road mortality threatens important wetlands biodiversity.”

In 2003, the recurring annual carnage earned the Long Point Causeway the dubious distinction of fourth-place ranking on a list of the world’s top turtle road mortality sites (after two sites in Florida and one in Montana).

Built in the 1920s to create land access to the beaches on Long Point, the causeway has presented a near century-old hazard for turtles needing a place to lay eggs, to reach summer habitat and to find winter hibernation sites.

Often female turtles, which only reach reproductive age in their teens, use the gravel shoulders for nesting, making them and their hatchlings especially susceptible to cars.

The paper says the construction of exclusion fencing began in 2008 and, two years later, most of the causeway was fenced, despite daunting challenges presented by the marsh and lake shore conditions.

Soon, overall reptile road kill numbers had fallen by half and by 60 per cent for important species-at-risk reptiles.

Quoting insurance industry statistics the paper says in the US alone drivers report hitting one million to two million animals every year — figures that don’t include millions of unreported collisions with smaller animals like turtles, raccoons or squirrels.


By Vishal Gulati 

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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Unhappy Naresh Agarwal joins BJP, says SP prefered Bollywood actress over me as RS candidate



Naresh Agarwal
Naresh Agarwal joins BJP (Photo-ANI)

The Samajwadi Party leader, Naresh Agarwal on Monday joined BJP in the presence of Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

While joining BJP, Naresh Agarwal who is currently the Rajya Sabha member of Samajwadi Party said, “I am joining the BJP as I think that until you are in National Party, you cannot do anything for the society. I am also impressed by PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi. I still respect Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav, but the current scenario in SP where it is doing a coalition with Congress and sometimes BSP is very sad.”

The leader joined BJP after the Samajwadi party nominated actor and politician Jaya Bachchan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in April. The party had to choose between Naresh Agarwal and Jaya Bachchan as they don’t have enough legislators in the assembly to support their candidate.

Talking about Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha candidate, Jaya Bachchan he said, “My comparison was drawn with those working in films… I was rejected for those who dance in films, work in films. I found it not proper. Nobody found it proper.”

Agarwal became tv channels and newspaper’s headline for making controversial statements. In July 2017, he courted controversy in Rajya Sabha by associating Hindu Gods with alcohol, while speaking on the issue of mob violence related with cow protection. However, after his statement, he was made to apologise by BJP.


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India, Pakistan should decide to think of peace: Farooq Abdullah on ceasefire violations



Farooq Abdullah
National Conference party leader, Farooq Abdullah (File Photo)

Kashmir:  National Conference party leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday spoke about the situation on the India- Pakistan border in Kashmir. 

The leader speaking on the continous ceasefire violation said,”this will continue to happen.”

The leader urging both the countries to find a diplomatic solution said,”firing will continue to happen on both sides unless the two nations decide to think of peace.”

“The sooner they think about it, the sooner it will stop,” he added.

However this is not the first time when Abdullah has asked for diplomatic solutions, earlier the leader stated that war is not the solution of the Kashmir issue.


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Kabul seeks closure of Taliban’s Qatar office



Taliban office in Qatar
Taliban office in Qatar (Photo- The Newyork Times)

Doha, Feb 24: Kabul has started discussions with the Qatari government to close the Taliban office in Doha as it has had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks with the group in Afghanistan”, a senior government official has said.

“There is no need to keep the office open”, said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, in an interview with Middle East newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week.

“The aim behind opening (Taliban’s) Qatar office was to start official peace negotiations with the terror group from the address, but so far no official negotiation from the office has been started with government. Even a single step has not been taken forward in the peace process through this office,” Qadir Shah, a spokesman for Atmar’s office said.

“It had no benefit for us even after seven years… It is better to close it,” Atmar said.

He also said that Kabul has so far witnessed no sign of “sincere” cooperation from Islamabad in counter-terrorism efforts.

The Taliban had earlier reached out to the US with an offer for talks and urged people to pressurize Washington to bring an end to the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Taliban had said that they preferred to resolve the conflict that began in 2001 through peaceful dialogue and warned that the use of force alone would complicate the problem in Afghanistan.

The group had called on the “American people and the peace-loving Congressmen” to pressurize US leadership to end the occupation of the Asian country, a precondition that Taliban has always maintained to begin any negotiation.


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