January 25, 2018
Badri Chatterjee, The Hindustan Times
A new mobile phone application — Roadwatch — will enable citizens to report wild animals killed anywhere in the country.
On December 30, 2017, eight-year-old tiger Bajirao (T2), a dominant male in the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary, was killed by a speeding vehicle on the Nagpur-Amravati four-lane highway, National Highway (NH) 6.
To reduce instances of wild animals dying on roads and railway lines, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation launched the app to document deaths using photographs, global positioning system (GPS), species of animal and date of record, among others. The app can be downloaded from Google Play Store or from www.roadwatchers.org.
“The idea was to build a user-friendly and reliable system to collect roadkill information with a high degree of accuracy”, said Jose Louies, head of trade control, WTI. “The entire data will be available in the public domain and will be submitted to the union environment ministry once compiled. The data will also help identify accident-prone highways across India, which be highlighted to state authorities and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the construction of underpasses and overpasses.”
He added an organisation or a group of students planning to carry out an area study for maximum roadkill will be provided with a customised version of the app.
Data collected by Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) from forest departments across India recorded 665 roadkill [431 road accidents and 234 train accidents] from 2012 to 2017 October. About 40%  of the roadkills were leopards, followed by elephant  of which 95 died in train accidents.
Radhika Bhagat, wildlife researcher working on the project, said the app will help improve planning of linear infrastructure projects keeping in mind the presence of wildlife. “This application will help in mapping roadkill hotspots, identifying the worst affected species and assessing the efficacy of existing mitigation measures,” she said.