Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-12-10 11:41 Bengaluru: Agreed that widening of existing small roads – especially inside the forest – would boost the economy. But what the development agencies are not realising is that it has turned fatal to the wildlife, especially the endangered leopards. According to a study, as many as 23 leopards have died in the state between 2009 and 2014 due to road accidents.Recently, a melanistic leopard’s carcass was found with its head and paws severed. It was found that the feline was knocked down by a speeding vehicle, thus adding it to the increasing deaths of leopards in the state. The incident puts a question whether the roads are turning into death knell to these animals. Watch Video: A scientific paper based on data collected from the media and the forest department by leading wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi and researchers HC Poornesh, Annapoorna Daithota and others says that the roads which pass through the protected areas are becoming death trap for animals. “Roads pass through ecologically important sites. This leads to habitat fragmentations and direct mortality of wildlife due to collision with the vehicles,” says the study. In fact, the challenge comes primarily from widening the existing small roads. “The existing small roads with low volume traffic are converted into highways. This opens the remote location increasing the number of motor vehicles (There has been 10.5 per cent increase in vehicles between 2002 and 2012 as per statistics). Of the 23 big cats killed, 19 were killed outside the protected areas (PAs). Animal deaths were also reported in and around Bengaluru (Bengaluru rural, urban and Ramangara districts, Kaggalipura and Nelamangala). Besides, animal deaths were also reported from Ramanagara, Magadi and Davangere too.The study also mentions about the National Wildlife Action Plan 2002-2016, which laid down the regulations and mitigations measures for threats by roads. Mentioning that though the regulation says that the roads should be circumventing the PAs, sadly, nothing much has been done to implement it.Expressing his concern over the increasing deaths, Wildlife Expert and author of the paper Sanjay Gubbi says, “As leopards are widespread and found even in places outside protected areas, appropriate mitigation measures should be part of road development when they are passing through leopard habitats. Though they are agile, heavy traffic on some of the highways and certain geographic features hinder their movement across roads resulting in mortality or severe injuries.”When asked about the present status after the paper published, Gubbi said that there was no change in the situation as of now.