Impact of Transportation on Mammalian Fauna of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, India

Nitin Joshi, Department of Environmental Sciences, H.N.B Garhwal Central University, India
Topic Area
Terrestrial Wildlife and Ecosystem Interactions with Transportation

Assessment and evaluation of road impact on wildlife is important for its conservation, planning and management. Various protected areas of India have been broken into many fragments due to the rapid expansion of road
infrastructure. A serious threat to mammalian fauna in and around Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) was observed in recent years, resulting from the drastic expansion of the transportation infrastructure network. We assessed mammalian fauna mortality on National Highway 72 which exists across Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The study was conducted from January to June 2016. A total of 16 road kills of wild animals by motor-vehicle collision were reported which includes Felis chaus, Viverricula indica, Semnopithecus entellus,etc. Mortality of any big mammal was not recorded, which might indicate avoidance of highway by the macro-fauna due to their behavioral changes and habitat fragmentation. Further, Four laning of the existing highway caused increase in traffic volume and velocity, which causes hindrance to the movement of wide-ranging mammalian fauna by inducing "barrier effect".During the onset of summer, vehicular density tends to increase due to influx of tourists which causes disturbance in movement of animal across their traditional migratory corridors. This repeated disturbance may have caused a shift in local density of fauna. This unique habitat holds one of the healthy populations of elephants and leopard in North India. The outcome of this study will advance our understanding of the considerations that must be taken into account during wildlife habitat management and conservation.

Abstract Keywords
Linear infrastructure
motor-vehicle collision
Mammalian fauna
Rajaji tiger reserve