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Wildlife Conservation: Building a unique bridge for reptiles in Uttarakhand

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The Forest Department has built a unique bridge for reptiles and small animals to cross the road in the hill state of Uttarakhand.

The 90-foot-long bridge, dubbed the ‘Eco Bridge’, is made of bamboo, grass and putts, the first of its kind.

The reason for building this bridge is that many reptiles were trampled under speeding cars on the highway leading to Nantal, a popular tourist destination in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Authorities are now planting grass and oxen on the bridge to keep the animals’ attention.

Forest Department Forest Officer Chandra Shekhar Joshi said that many reptiles and small animals were trampled under tourist vehicles on the highway.

Joshi said that the bridge has been made at a point where the road arcs in a wide ‘U’, and vehicles going downhill often travel at high speed. It is expected that by reducing the need for sudden braking in front of a crossing animal, the road will be safer for human beings too.

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“This is a dense forest, and elephants, leopards, deer, and blue bulls move in this area. Drivers can see them from some distance and slow down or stop, but they rarely do so for snakes, lizards, monitors, or squirrels,” said a forest official.

He said that in order to attract reptiles and other small animals to the bridge, creepers will be grown it and it will be layered with grass and leaves.

The DFO said that boards were being put up to create awareness of the need to protect reptiles. Forest staff would patrol the area to ensure tourists do not try to use the bridge for selfies, he added

Authorities have installed cameras on both sides of the bridge to monitor the movement of animals, he said.

The bridge itself has become a tourist attraction and many passers-by stop here to take pictures and selfies. However, forest officials hope the bridge will soon attract animal attention.

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“It is a dense forest and elephants, deer, buffaloes and leopards roam the area,” a forest official told The Indian Express. Drivers slow down or stop their vehicles when they see these animals from a distance, but they rarely do so for snakes, lizards or squirrels.

Authorities hope the bridge will help raise awareness of the area’s small and reptile animals, as well as protect them.