This New Bridge Lets Reptiles Cross the Busy Highway Safely

Can snakes, lizards, and squirrels share the road safely with cars?

This New Bridge Lets Reptiles Cross the Busy Highway Safely | Can snakes, lizards, and squirrels share the road safely with cars?

Set in India’s scenic, snow-capped Himalayan mountains, Nainital’s panoramic waterways and lush forests are a popular tourist destination. According to Incredible India, this sleepy hilltown’s lakes shine like jewels as they reflect the beaming sunlight.

The road to Nainital is paved with woodlands, where elephants, leopards, snakes, and squirrels roam. Nainital’s wildlife coexists well with human visitors, but increasing tourist traffic poses a danger to small animals crossing the roads. The BBC reports on an Eco-Bridge, strung across a busy highway in India’s Uttarakhand state, on the way to Nainital. The bridge is designed to mitigate the danger by giving animals a safe way to cross the highway.

Bamboo, jute, and grass
An Indian forest official told the BBC, “This is a dense forest, and elephants, leopards, deer and bulls move in this area. Drivers can see them from some distance and slow down or stop, but they rarely do so for snakes, lizards, monitors or squirrels.”

To make things safer for the snakes, lizards, monitors, and squirrels, forest officials built a 90-foot-long “Eco Bridge” made from all-natural materials including bamboo, jute, and grass, high up in the air above the road. Officials are now growing grass and vegetation to overlay the bridge, in order to attract animals. 

Officials hope that a fully-vegetated bridge will draw rodents and reptiles to use it. Meanwhile it’s already attracting tourists, who stop to take photos of the swinging structure. It’s also spreading awareness to speeding motorists to slow down for smaller wildlife. 

Eco Bridges in India
JagranJosh shares more information about wildlife crossings in India. Although the Uttarakhand Eco Bridge is the first Indian wildlife bridge for small animals, Indian politicians, conservationists, and scientists have recently collaborated on a number of projects intended to help cars and larger animals share the road. 

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For example, six canopy bridges were built over a stretch of highway in the Annamalai Hills of Tamil Nadu. These canvas structures are intended to support Nilgiri langurs and lion-tailed macaques in accessing both sides of the highway. On India’s busy NH-44 highway, four bridges and five underpasses have successfully enabled leopards, tigers, and golden jackals to cross the congested freeway. Plans for more animal crossings are currently underway in India, including one intended for elephants on the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway. 

From its lizard species, to its macaques, to its elephants, and tigers, India has some of the most unique wildlife found anywhere in the world. Hopefully, nature-integrated urban planning will help India’s native flora and fauna thrive alongside its human neighbors.

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