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Bangalore, July 30 (IANS) Karnataka's environmentalists and forest officials working hard to protect the forests and their wild inhabitants have hailed the Karnataka High Court's recent judgement banning vehicular traffic at night through the famous Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Karnataka High Court Monday banned night vehicular traffic on two roads bisecting the Bandipur forest in Chamarajanagar district.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging the action of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Chamarajanagar district in withdrawing a notification closing two roads passing through the Bandipur forest for vehicular traffic at night (from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
The court has asked the ban to be implemented within five days of the judgement.
'We welcome the judgement. It's a good news for the entire conservation fraternity. Since long we've been trying hard to put an end to large scale killing of animals in road accidents,' Hari Somashekar, an environmentalist, told IANS.
Wildlife enthusiasts and environmentalists said that animal casualties from road accidents have been higher than poaching cases in recent years.
'Because of the large-scale traffic movement right through the middle of Bandipur, especially during night hours, many animals have been killed,' added Somashekar.
Somashekar is the director, publicity and awareness, Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS), a wildlife and environment group working for animal protection in Bandipur.
KANS as a part of its conservation measure has been conducting weekend awareness drives to educate the commuters to be sensitive towards animals.
Over an eight month period, around 10,000 commuters were educated about accident free driving at Bandipur.
Karnataka forest department had earlier proposed the ban on night vehicular movement along the national highway through Bandipur to save animals from being killed by speeding trucks, buses and vans.
However, hours ahead of the ban coming into effect on the night of June 10, the Karnataka government said the decision was on hold.
'It's a huge victory for us. Vehicular ban at night through Bandipur will ensure safety of animals. We're happy with the decision,' said Laxmeesha Acharya, a Bangalore-based environmentalist.
Echoing Acharya, wildlife photographer and environmentalist Dinesh Kumble said: 'Over the years, a lot of innocent animals were killed in road accidents in Bandipur. Now, animals would have free movement in the sanctuary.'
According to statistics, around 15-20 vehicles pass through Bandipur National Park every minute. More than 100 trucks carrying vegetables from Mysore and Chamarajanagar and 250-300 sand laden trucks pass through this park every day.
This is apart from thousands of tourist vehicles that ply on this road. A number of animals had been killed in accidents during the night.
The sanctuary covering 874.20 sq km is situated on the border of three southern states - Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Although the forest department does not have a record of the number of animals killed in such road accidents(???), experts believe every year dozens of animals fall victim to speeding vehicles at night.
The Mysore-Ooty national highway running through Bandipur serves as an animal corridor and several animals have been killed while crossing the road at night. The animals killed include deer, wild pigs and sloth bear."