India builds unique bridge to help reptiles cross busy road

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/12/4 17:33:06

Photo taken on Nov. 30, 2020 shows an Eco Bridge made of bamboo sticks, jute and grass for reptiles to cross a busy highway in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. (Photo credit: IANS)

Forest officials in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand have built a unique bridge for reptiles and other small animals to help them cross busy highway deep inside a jungle area.

The bridge made of bamboo sticks, jute and grass has come up inside Ramnagar forest division in Nainital district, about 225 km southeast of Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand.

According to forest officials, the first of its kind Eco Bridge in north India forests is 90 feet (27 meters) long.

"The 90-feet-long bridge is 5 feet in width and has a height of 40 feet," Chandra Shekhar Joshi, district forest officer of the Ramnagar forest division, told Xinhua. "The bridge can take the weight of three adult humans."

Joshi said the forest area is home to snakes, including pythons, monitor lizards, rodent squirrels and monkeys, and the reptiles frequently get crushed under the passing vehicles.

"We don't have a record available with us as to how many reptiles have got crushed but often our patrolling teams come across incidents where they see small reptiles being crushed under speeding wheels," he said.

"Since this is a very dense forest, elephants, leopards, deer and bulls move in the area freely. Because of their size drivers can see them from some distance and slow down or stop in order to allow them to cross the road. However, in the case of snakes, lizards or squirrels they often get crushed for not being clearly visible."

Officials believe the bridge will attract the smaller animals and reptiles in the area towards it and thereby protect them from getting crushed.

"We even assume that the bridge would be used by leopards," Joshi said.

Highway passing through the forest is the main route to the district headquarters and a large number of vehicles ply on it, especially in the tourist season.

"Now the challenging thing is that we have to create conditions for these species so that they can use the bridge. For this creepers will be grown over it and it will be layered with grass and leaves," Joshi said.

"The bridge will also be monitored by four camera traps to study the movement of small animals."

Meanwhile, the bridge has now emerged a new tourist attraction inside the forest as passersby stop to take pictures.

Experts said roadkill is one of the biggest problems faced by Indian wildlife, especially in areas where highways or railroads pass through forests.

The Indian forest service association has hailed efforts for building the Eco Bridge for reptiles to cross the road safely.


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