Every year, American roads alone face more than a million accidents involving animals. This adds up to more than eight billion dollars annually for medical and vehicle repair costs.
Although human fatality rate is quite low in these accidents, the animals are not always so lucky. Most of them end up being killed or seriously injured. Road accidents are, in fact, a major reason behind the extinction of 21 endangered species.
After putting our primate brains at work, we found the most obvious solution - stopping wildlife from trying to cross roads by using fences. It is a simple, yet effective solution and has reduced roadkill by over 50 percent. But it neglects a wider problem altogether.
Roads tend to divide wildlife populations into portions, limiting their chance to find food, mate and other essentials. Anthony Clevenger, a senior wildlife research scientist, found this after observing how roads influence the wildlife at Banff National Park, Canada.
After identifying the problem, the local government started building overpasses and underpasses in Banff from 1980. These 24 bridges were disguised with elements of the surrounding environment, like soil and native trees. The fences implemented previously are now used to funnel the animals towards the bridges.
Species like deer, elk and moose started using them almost immediately, and the skeptical ones such as wolves and bears joined them soon after. After its success at Banff, European countries like the Netherlands, the UK and Germany joined in on the act.
But the big obstacle in the way of this project was its cost. Sure, it would save money in the long run, but the initial investment was just too large for developing countries. So, Clevenger arranged a competition along with several other architects, and it achieved the desired outcome. The winning design was a triangular tunnel that eliminated the need for pillars and subtracting a huge amount of money.
In Bangladesh, The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is constructing a railroad through one of the last remaining wildlife sanctuaries in Cox's Bazar. The railroad will be cutting through the elephant corridor, a route used by Asian elephants for travelling.
The project's Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] has suggested five wildlife crossing bridges along the route for safe passage of the elephants, with an estimated cost of three million dollars for each overpass.
Experts have said that whatever needs to be done for preserving the natural migratory routes for elephants should be done.
Wildlife crossings are very rare currently, especially in developing countries. And with global warming posing a serious threat to wildlife, the need for these bridges will grow day by day.