The death of the leopard is said to be the first recorded death of a big cat on this highway, once again highlighting the fact that linear infrastructure projects passing through or close to a forest pose a threat to wildlife
Samruddhi Expressway. File Pic
Just a day before Wildlife Week commenced on Sunday, a leopard lost its life on the Igatpuri-Nagpur section of the Samruddhi Highway, marking the first recorded fatality of a large feline on it.
A statement from a Nashik forest department official revealed that on Saturday at 9:30 pm, a leopard died in a collision with a speeding vehicle near Igatpuri on the highway. Since the Samruddhi’s opening, there have been several wild animal deaths and accidents on it, and injuries to wild boars, monkeys, and nilgai while crossing the road.
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The death of the leopard is said to be the first recorded death of a big cat on this highway, once again highlighting the fact that linear infrastructure projects passing through or close to a forest pose a threat to wildlife. Wildlife Conservationist and Director of Bombay Natural History Society, Kishor Rithe said, “Agencies need to adopt appropriate retrofitting mitigation measures on existing projects passing through wildlife habitats.”
In order to minimise accidents and prevent animals from entering the highway corridor, MSRDC has prohibited planting of 13 varieties of fruit trees that attract wildlife. Authorities have been claiming that the 701-km-long expressway was planned in a way that wildlife faces no threat. There are a total of nine green overpasses and 17 underpasses for wild animals.
A forest department official said, “At many places underground and over ground wildlife crossings have been provided on the Samruddhi Highway but it is very difficult to say why wild animals are dying there while crossing the road. We have to do a detailed study.” In January this year more than 10 wild boars died on the highway. Later, a video of three Nilgai crossing the highway had also gone viral.