Highways bisecting protected areas can have adverse impacts upon wild animals. Many studies around the world have investigated the intensities of roadkill resulting from such highways and the subsequent conservation impacts. However, there have been limited studies undertaken in developing countries with this regard. In this study, we investigated the impact of roads on three taxonomic groups (birds, mammals and reptiles) on six roads in eastern Ethiopia that bisect four protected areas. We collected roadkill occurrence data in both the dry and wet seasons through undertaking systematic driven road surveys; we also assessed the conservation status of all roadkill species detected.
A total of 128 roadkill were recorded comprising 44 species from 25 families. Birds and mammals were the most frequently killed taxonomic groups (46.9% and 45.3%, respectively) compared to reptiles (7.8%). Out of the 44 species detected, 81.8% are of Least Concern, 6.8% are Vulnerable; Near Threatened and Endangered species comprised 4.5% each, whilst 2.3% are Critically Endangered. Diurnal species constituted the majority of roadkill detected (75%) followed by nocturnal (18.2%) then crepuscular (6.8%). Most roadkill were encountered on roads adjacent to protected areas, within a distance of <60 km.
This study highlights the potential threat of roads on wildlife in eastern Ethiopia, particularly those adjacent to protected areas. Further study to gather temporal data on the current study roads, as well expanded spatial data collection to include other roads in the country will assist with a greater understanding of the impacts of roads in Ethiopia and allow appropriate mitigation measures to be proposed