A drive in the hills is always a pleasure. Last week as we drove up to Dhanaulti, at the outskirts of Mussoorie, our idyllic drive received a jolt. I espied a snake on the road and swerved to stop. Even as all of the car’s occupants piled out, I said with dread in my heart, “Its dead.”
Sure enough, as we got close we realised that the snake had been run over by a vehicle.
The collared black-headed snake (Sibynophis collaris) is a common hill snake. The snake gets its common name from the black collar or band on its neck. It is a docile non-venomous snake that means no harm. The snake is easily handled during a rescue and hardly ever bites. I have seen it on many occasions on the same road.
Pathetically, on more occasions than one, the snake has been run over by vehicles. We picked the snake up with our hands and moved it to the side of the road. The snake, barely alive, was bleeding and it was clear to us that it would not survive. Examining the snake we surmised that it had been run over by a two-wheeler, given the nature of its injuries. A vehicle with a narrow wheelbase had crushed the snake’s body. Couldn’t the scooter or motorcycle rider have avoided the snake? After all, we had spotted the snake from our vehicle.
Even as we watched the snake, the light seemed to fade from its eyes. It was dying even as we stood beside it, and there was nothing that we could do to save it. What is it about us that we don’t give two hoots about wildlife on the roads? Over the years, I have observed so many road kills. I have spotted loads of butterflies killed by speeding vehicles. at At least, butterflies can take to the wing. Snakes and frogs are unable to move quickly enough and are squashed by vehicles on roads very frequently. I have even seen civet cats and mongooses run over by vehicles.
I have often wondered why it is that we don’t care? Do not we realise that the only reason animals cross roads is that the road we built has possibly cut off their corridor from one part of the forest to another? Animals are forced to use the road to cross, as they have no other option. Whether in a car, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or even on foot can’t we take care not to kill wildlife? After all, having occupied and invaded the very habitat that wild creatures once lived in we surely owe them the space to cross roads safely.
What can you do? Do you walk to school? Make sure you don’t inadvertently or, even worse, deliberately step on wild creatures on the road. Cycling to meet your friends? Take care that your other friends – the wild ones – are not run over as you speed away. It’s the least we can do to save wild creatures.
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