New corridors saving wildlife from danger of vehicles
Thailand is digging deep to protect its elephants, tigers, bears, and other wildlife. Animal footprints found on top of highway traffic tunnels in northeastern Thailand are evidence that the underpasses built to save wildlife from death and injury caused by vehicles crossing their habitats are bringing positive results.
The tunnels are one feature of what the government calls ‘wildlife corridors.’ The corridors are areas between national parks that are relatively close to each other, and where planners and officials are taking measures to ensure that animals can roam between sanctuaries in safety, thereby expanding their habitats.
After decades of agricultural expansion, industrial development, and the growth of towns and cities, Thailand is determined to preserve and restore its environment and its forests. The Kingdom’s treasure trove of flora and fauna are now viewed as national natural assets that must not be lost to over-development.
Both bridges and tunnels have been constructed through the corridors areas to sustain the environment for wildlife as much as possible, and so animals will not be at risk crossing roads and highways.
After conducting a survey, the government found that the tunnels were proving effective, while wildlife tended to avoid passing underneath the bridges and overpasses.
“I have seen footprints of deer and chamois on the top of the tunnel,” said Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy chairman of the national reform committee on natural resources and environment, referring to an inspection trip he recently made to a corridor linking Khao Yai National Park and Thap Lan National Park in northeastern Thailand. The visit was part of a survey conducted by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
“Last September, a man took a video clip of a chamois close to the tunnel construction site. It might be the same case, as I have found the footprints,” Theerapat said.
He added that tunnels were expensive to build, but they are worth the investment because they are saving wildlife lives.
According to the Department of Highways, animals that are expected to use the wildlife corridor include wild boar, muntjac, Asian black bears, the Indochinese water dragon, frogs, and puddle frogs. The department’s report found that the forest along Highway 304 in the northeast is a significant habitat for boar, deer, tigers, gaur, and elephant.