Roadkills are severely under-reported and severely underestimated but pose a huge threat to wildlife. Landscapes are changing so fast that it does not give resident wildlife a chance to adjust to the changes. Village access roads are being developed as tar roads, local roads are turning in to highways, various irrigation canals are coming up fragmenting habitats. All this is happening way too fast, and way too much. All this is resulting in wildlife roadkills, including vulnerable and endangered species. In certain circumstances, a severe reduction in the population size of species subject to high roadkill rates results in a subsequent biodiversity loss.
While the charismatic species get reported and are well documented by media, the lesser charismatic but equally important species are recorded poorly. There is an urgent need to mitigate roadkill incidents by studying roadkills, quantifying its impact, studying commuter behavior, putting up signboards at strategic locations, educating local communities, and implementing mitigation measures involving multi-stakeholder participation.
Roads are crossed regularly by wildlife to move from one part of the habitat to another due to biological, and ecological needs. Needs can as basic as finding food or drinking water, taking shelter, or searching for a mate. Reptiles often use the warm roads to thermoregulate during cold days and end up getting killed. Studies show that some species, when moving on the highway, act towards moving vehicles in the same way that they do when they recognize a predator in the natural environment. The observed reactions are to interrupt the crossing and stand motionless (with variable immobilization time) or to increase speed, rapidly completing the crossing to the other side of the highway.
It is estimated that majority of the roadkills are reptiles and amphibians, but small mammals and birds too are common victims. In some areas the number of roadkills are extremely high during the monsoons as roads are made higher than the open lands that get water-logged. These are the dry, high lands that herps mistake for safe refuge.
Some standard mitigation measures like speed limits, warning sign boards, speed bumps, etc. may be effective but there needs to be multi-stakeholder engagement based on inclusive research. Long term monitoring of roadkill can provide critical data for species conservation and management of their habitats.