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Friday, May 25, 2012

Karnataka govt finally approves a bypass for killer road in tiger reserve

Scores of endangered animals have been killed by speeding vehicles on the Mysore-Mananthavadi road, which passes through one of India's best protected tiger reserves -- Nagarahole -- in the last three decades. But now, the situation is likely to improve. In an effort to protect the remaining tigers and elephants, the Karnataka government has decided to develop a new road as a bypass for the Nagarahole tiger reserve. The Mysore-Mananthavadi road was known as the 'killer highway' among conservationists as a large number of animals, including elephants and tigers, had been mowed down by reckless drivers on the stretch. Elephants and tigers crossing the road, even during daytime in peak hour traffic, was a common sight in the area. The road is the major link for transportation of goods between Mysore and Mananthavadi. Efforts were made to regulate traffic on the road, but it brought little relief for the animals. However, after persistent efforts by conservationists, the government finally released Rs.18 crore to commence work on the new project, which includes developing 14 kilometres of an underdeveloped road outside the tiger reserve. Nagarahole tiger reserve, which is part of the national park, comprises an area of 643 sq km and holds approximately 65-70 tigers. It forms part of a large tiger habitat comprising Bandipura, Mudumalai and Waynad -- all protected areas with several other reserved forests. The original Mysore-Mananthavadi highway, passing through the southern part of Nagarahole tiger reserve, one of the best habitats for tiger and Asiatic elephant, has fragmented and dissected the wildlife corridor between Nagarahole and Bandipura tiger reserves. "Fortunately, an alternative underdeveloped road that would pass outside the tiger reserve was available for a section of the highway between Dammanakatte and Udbur junction (of the Mysore-Mananthavadi Road). This alternative road reduces the highway length within the tiger reserve by about 10 km, thereby consolidating about 50 sq km of prime tiger habitat. The government has taken a pro-active step," said conservation biologist Sanjay Gubbi, who fought extensively for the alternate road. Interestingly, the alternate road is longer by a mere 4 km, but will provide connectivity to 11 villages, thereby helping nearly 25,000 people. The villages were not even connected by the state transport units. Now the villagers will get improved transportation facilities in the name of tiger conservation. "They can now take their agricultural produce directly to the markets while previously they relied largely on middlemen due to lack of transportation facilities. Frequent buses now help school and college going students," pointed out Gubbi. Read more at:

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