Mortality rates of snakes on the roads of Vazhachal Forest Division, Kerala, Southern-Western Ghats, India.
Keywords:snake, highway, mortailty, conservation, protected forest
Vehicular mortalities have a significant impact on wildlife, and pose a substantial threat to biodiversity. Several national highways (NH) bisect important reserve forest patches in India, resulting in severe habitat fragmentation. This study records snake mortalities between from June 2019 to November 2019, on State Highway 21, covering a ca.80km stretch adjoining the Vazhachal forest division. A total of 18 species belonging to five families and 18 genera were recorded. The families are Uropeltidae with one genus (1 sp.), Pythonidae with one genus (1 sp.), Colubridae with 11 genera (11 spp.), Elapidae with 3 genera (3 spp.) and Viperidae with 2 genera (2 spp.). Of these, three are endemic to Western Ghats, one species is near threatened, one species is vulnerable, and one species is listed as endangered. This region is a potential habitat to endemic species, and also home to many faunal species. Hence, a lower speed limit would be advisable to protect wildlife and mitigate future threats.