Black panther killed by heavy vehicle in North Karnataka
Feb 11, 2014, 04.58 AM IST
Wildlife enthusiasts who were elated after spotting pug marks of the endangered black panther in the forests of Uttara Kannada were dismayed over the news that broke early on Sunday.
A black panther was run over by an unidentified heavy vehicle on Kumta-Sirsi National Highway on Saturday night reminding us about the huge impact of vehicle traffic passing through our wilderness areas.
Mr.S Ramesh, the DFO of Honnavarforest division, informed that the body was of the rare black panther was found near Kshethrapal temple in Katgal range. The dead body of the black panther was first noticed by the temple priest who in turn informed the forest department.
"It was a three-and-a-half-year-old male panther, which was most probably hit by a truck. It was found dead on the road with its face smashed. The accident must have taken place when the animal was crossing the road in pursuit of its quarry or to drink water. The postmortem has been done and a case has also been registered," Ramesh said.
Unfortunately this was not the first time that such a charismatic and rare species met its sad end under the speeding wheels of a vehicle. Three years back another black panther had died in the same road in the Katgal forest range.
Though commonly known as a Black Panther, they are not a different species than leopards (Panther pardus). Rather the black panthers are melanistic leopards and sighting of a black panther is extremely rare.
The death of a black panther under the wheels of a speeding vehicle again shows the precarious state of our wilderness places and the impact of disturbances due to movement of vehicles.
It is a known fact that vehicles travel at high speeds through our forests in order to make up time lost while driving in the cities. The condition of the roads passing through our forests are better so the vehicles try to speed when they see a relatively empty stretch of road. This results death of many wildlife species. Most of the times the death of herpeto-fauna and smaller mammals goes unnoticed. The death of charismatic species is only noticed. However, our policies are flawed, so we are only left to feel sad.
Recently the MoEF had constituted a Sub-committee to recommend guidelines on roads in protected areas. Unfortunately, the sub-committee decided to maintain status-quo on the existing roads passing through our National Parks and core critical tiger habitats.
“The roads could be maintained and repaired in the best manner possible in their current form and present width. No widening or upgradation is to be allowed. If it is an existing tarred road, it shall be maintained as such and no widening of the tarred surface or the widening of the road itself, may be done.” This decision appears to be based on the decision taken by the standing committee of IBWL thirteen years earlier in 14.6.2000. For further details please check the 2013 Nov issue of IndiaWilds Newsletter http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indi...ol-5-issue-xi/
If roads are not maintained well inside the forests, than the speed of the vehicles will be automatically regulated. Focus should be on creating alternate alignments. Unfortunately, we seem to be losing the battle to save our wilderness areas. Unless everybody raises their voice, it is an uphill task to save the last tracts of wilderness areas left in this country.