Trichy: Wild animals in the reserve forest areas in Trichy continue to fall prey to speeding vehicles on national highways, which pass through forest patches, connecting Madurai and Dindigul with Trichy. Having considerable Indian gaur population, both Thuvarankurichi and Manapparai forest ranges under Trichy forest division witness frequent animal hits and deaths on the highways.
While the forest department has been pushing for fencing the highway stretches which pass through the reserve forest areas, the proposal has been pending for more than several months for want of funds. As summer approaches, the conflict is only expected to increase in these regions posing a threat to the lives of humans and animals.
The stretch, where Trichy–Dindigul NH 45 crosses the Manapparai reserve forest, has become an accident-prone zone with a substantial population of Indian gaur. Its population is on the rise due to the absence of predators, but these giant animals often get hit by speeding vehicles while straying out of the reserve forest.
Same is the case with Thuvarankurichi forest range in the close vicinity of Trichy-Madurai highway. Finding greenery on the other side of the road on patta lands because of agriculture activities, wild animals from the reserve forest often fall victim to speeding vehicles in their attempt to cross the road.
“The 2.5-km forest stretch along the highway has been identified as the routine path for these animals. Besides, a proposal to fence a stretch in Manapparai forest range where the big animals often appear on NH 45 is also under consideration,” said district forest officer D Sujatha. The forest department has approached the district administration as well as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in this regard.
Speaking to TOI, a senior official from the national highways department said that they are yet to receive any proposal from the forest department in this regard. However, the official said that the number of accidents has come down over the recent past after efforts were taken to prevent such accidents.
“The grass on the median of the Chennai-Madurai highway has been removed from Dindivanam after learning that it attracts animals. Besides this, steps such as patrolling by highway staff along the highways and cautioning the vehicles on possible movement of wild animals on the highway have brought down the number of accidents,” he said.
Saying that fencing indeed is a better option as it is done in Tirunelveli district along the national highway, the official said the forest department should fence it but it would be an expensive affair considering the length of the stretch.
Suggesting underpasses across the highway near the reserve forests, honorary wildlife warden, Trichy forest division A Relton said that these wild animals cross the highway only on a particular stretch. However, fencing has not been so successful given the size of these animals. “If the forest department could ensure water in these reserve forests, there will not be any need for them to come down to the highways,” he said.
Date: 01 March 2019