What are ‘Wildlife Corridors’ and why are they crucial?
Wildlife Corridors have now become a necessity for the survival of animals as humans have increased their activities in the recent past leaving behind the remnants for others. Activities like expanding agricultural fields, building new network of roads and rapid urbanization have shrunk the forest area and reduced the habitat of wildlife into small patches. This division of wildlife is often referred to as fragmentation.
The fragmentation of wildlife has restricted the movement of animals from one place to another without coming in contact with the humans. Wildlife Corridors help connect these patches allowing free passage for the wildlife, which is natural to their pattern of living. Hence, Wildlife Corridors have now become an integral part of their habitat.
What purpose do they serve?
These cross landscape connections that link different areas of habitats, help reduce Human-Wildlife Conflicts by giving them an option to avoid man-made barriers. Had there been no such corridors, the chances of interaction would have been much higher than it is at present.
Animals have a nature to migrate from place to place rather than stay at one place for longer durations. Such seasonal migrations are facilitated by these corridors.
Connection between habitats is crucial for ecological balance and to avoid genetic adaptation to a specific region due to prolonged stays. It also helps them connect with the same species during mating seasons and all these factors reduce the chances of unhealthy genetic variations.
At times of stochastic events like forest fires or floods; these corridors pave the way for an easy escape for the wildlife and significantly help in the conservation of wildlife in such moments.
Terai Arc Landscape (India-Nepal)
Terai Arc Landscape is a cross border landscape shared by India and Nepal which comprises of 13 protected areas, four in Nepal and nine in India. These individual areas are connected to each other via wildlife corridors, which help the tigers and other animals to have access to other reserves.
Highway 93 wildlife crossings (Montana)
Highway 93 in Montana is famous for its wildlife crossings that provide a sustainable and mesmerizing solution to avoid Human-Wildlife Conflicts. This highway witnesses more than 40 underpasses and overpasses, giving enough room to the wildlife to cross safely.
Sawantwadi –Dodamarg Wildlife Corridor (India)
Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Wildlife Corridor in South India links sanctuaries and reserves which accommodates some of the most extensive creatures in the country like Bengal Tigers, Bears and Elephants. Mumbai based Awaaz Foundation played a major role in protecting this region from the mining companies that used to dominate the Western Ghats.
Netherland has mastered in the art of sustainability especially when it comes to wildlife corridors. Hundreds of bridges and tunnels allow safe passage for many animals like Deers, Wild Boars and other endangered animals throughout the country. These wild bridges are called ‘Ecoducts’.
As Uncle Ben put it “With great power, comes great responsibility”. One such responsibility as the dominant species of the ecosystem is to take care of the nature and not exploit it. Wildlife Corridors are now the only means by which animals can migrate from place to place. Yet the ever increasing greed of profit and luxury has corrupted the human minds to cut off such means too. Let’s not succumb to it and resist our way to a more inclusive and harmonic future.