Sabyasachi Patra

Murder on the Road

Murder on the Road

A wild mongoose, an endangered species, is killed on the road by a speeding vehicle at Bhubaneswar, India

A mongoose flattened by a speeding Vehicle

I love driving.

A broken leg didn’t dim my enthusiasm for driving fast; rather it shifted my preferences from motorbikes to cars. Off late, the Chennai roads and the driving habits of people have somewhat tempered my temptation to drive fast. I have witnessed incidents where cars are smashed beyond recognition. Sad they are, but I had never seen a fatal accident before where the helpless victim was hit while running helter skelter to avoid the speeding vehicles.


I had seen signs near wildlife habitats warning of road kills, but this was the first instance I watched a road kill. And the helpless victim was a mongoose which is as threatened as a tiger and is placed in the Schedule I of the wildlife protection act 1972.


I was in Bhubaneswar and driving in a busy road. Suddenly, a mongoose appeared through a hole in the wall of a garden. The traffic was less and it tried to cross the road. I braked and pulled to the side of the road to watch it. I was scared that the mongoose might get hit. Unfortunately, when the mongoose had crossed half of the road, a speeding motorcyclist blocked its way. The mongoose got scared and tried to retrace its steps. Alas, precious time had been lost, as the traffic had turned green in the connecting road and all of a sudden there were several cars speeding across in the road. The mongoose tried to duck the cars and move to safety, but luck was not on its side. In a moment’s time, everything was over for the hapless mongoose. I had parked my car and was shooting. That slowed down the traffic a bit, but not enough. Perhaps I should have parked my car in the middle of the road. Cars were just zipping past me and flattening the mongoose over and over again with a few cursory glances at me wondering why I was shooting.


In a few moments, there was a road kill and it went unnoticed for the majority of people. This brings to our mind, an important question. Do any other species have a right to live on this earth?


We have been singularly insensitive to their needs. We have been systematically destroying their habitat. With the explosion of human population, we have been developing’ areas that had been earlier home to several species of birds and animals. Even small tracts of land, can be a home to insects, small birds, and animals like this mongoose. Rather than allow it to live in peace, we have been killing the mongoose to use its hair for paint brush. Brushes made of mongoose hair are supposed to be good for oil paintings. Thousands of mongooses were killed for their hair. The Govt. of India finally woke up and trade of mongoose hair was banned. Hopefully, it will stop the killing.


However, a far greater threat is the habitat destruction. I have seen mongoose in small gardens near my house in urban areas. With our urban areas turning into concrete jungles, these green areas are lost without people even understanding its impact on the various species. I hope we pause for a moment to closely examine the numerous road kills, in which wild animals are killed in India.

Sabyasachi Patra
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