AFTER A pregnant leopard died in a road accident on Ghodbunder Road last month, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has suggested mitigation measures, such as construction of underpass and overpass, and upgrading existing bridges and culverts for larger animals to pass through.
At present, four infrastructure projects are under construction or coming up around SGNP and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. “Over the last two years, road widening work is underway on the highway. We have suggested several mitigation measures along this route, like the construction of bigger culverts, and we are trying to expedite their construction with project proponents as early as possible,” said G Mallikarjuna, SGNP director and conservator of forest.
He added, “We are also working on sensitising motorists to follow speed limit or drive slowly when passing through a forested patch on highways. We cannot add speed breakers on the existing road.”
Mallikarjuna said proper signboards about wildlife crossings were also being considered on Thane-Ghodbunder Road, Ghodbunder-Tungareshwar stretch and Dahisar-Versova bridge stretch.
The SGNP and peripheral areas are home to at least 47 big cats, including the transient population moving between SGNP into surrounding landscapes, as per a 2019 estimation by wildlife biologist Nikit Surve and SGNP.
A pregnant leopard (carrying three unborn cubs), aged between three and four, was killed in a road accident on Western Express Highway near Mira Road on November 16. Another leopard was killed in a road accident near Satara on National Highway 4 connecting Pune and Bengaluru.
According to the 2020 data from the state forest department, leopard deaths due to road and train accidents have doubled in comparison to last year. In 2019, 17 animals died in road and train hits as compared to 34 this year.
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