Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Eco-ducts or Eco-bridges and their significance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Eco-bridges

Mains level: Road accidents and wildlife

Ramnagar Forest Division in Nainital district, Uttarakhand, recently built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals.

Q.Discuss how Eco-ducts or eco-bridges provide the best alternative for wildlife connectivity which is disrupted because of manmade highways. Also, discuss various challenges in building such bridges.

What are Eco-bridges?

  • Eco-ducts or eco-bridges aim to enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways or logging.
  • These include canopy bridges (usually for monkeys, squirrels and other arboreal species); concrete underpasses or overpass tunnels or viaducts (usually for larger animals); and amphibian tunnels or culverts.
  • Usually, these bridges are overlaid with planting from the area to give it a contiguous look with the landscape.

Why need such bridges?

  • There are many roadkills on this route, especially of reptiles such as the monitor lizard.
  • The bridge is an awareness-building mechanism for this very congested tourist route.
  • These bridges are a way to see how we can preserve the ecosystem necessary for reptiles that feed on insects, for snakes that feed on reptiles, and for eagles that feed on snakes.

Need of the hour

  • A 2020 study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) noted that nearly 50,000 km of road projects have been identified for construction over the next five to six years.
  • Many highways are being upgraded to four lanes.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority had identified three major sites that were cutting across animal corridors.
  • These including National Highway 37 through the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in Assam, and State Highway 33 through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.

Some considerations

  • The span and distribution of eco-bridges should depend on animal movement patterns.
  • The bigger bridges will see sambar, spotted deer, nilgai, wild pig using them, while for tigers or leopards if the bridge is 5m or 500 m, it doesn’t bother them.
  • But some animals like the deers, which prefer closed habitats, need smaller bridges.

Some successes

  • The observation on NH 44, which intersects Kanha-Pench and Pench-Navegaon-Nagzira corridors in various sections, is a success.
  • With five animal underpasses and four minor bridges on the 6.6-km road within the forests, it’s one of India’s success stories.

Such bridges in news

  • One of the largest underpasses – 1.4km – for animal conservation in India is being built along the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border.
  • Other proposals include the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway, in the Hosur-Krishnagiri segment, near reserve forests for elephant crossings, and in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur, Maharashtra.

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