Impact of vehicular traffic on vertebrate fauna in Horton plains and Yala national parks of Sri Lanka: some implications for conservation and management

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Suranjan Karunarathna
Sudheera Ranwala
Thilina Surasinghe
Majintha Madawala


Impacts of roadkills are extensively documented in developed nations.  Only a handful of studies on road mortality has emerged from developing nations where tourism and rural development have led to an expansion of transportation networks.  To fill such gaps, we conducted a survey to document roadkills in and around two tourism-heavy national parks of Sri Lanka and identified factors that contribute to road mortality.  Based on a questionnaire, we interviewed 68 local villagers, 56 local and 59 foreign visitors, and 57 safari drivers to document their opportunistic observations on roadkills, their awareness about roadkills, and to understand potential causes of roadkills.  We found 47 roadkilled vertebrate species at both parks; among these, 19 are threatened and 20 are endemic.  Our research revealed that herpetofauna were killed the most.  We concluded that increased visitation, high-speed driving, lack of awareness, and poor law enforcement as the likely causes of roadkills at both parks.  As mitigatory actions, we proposed posting speed limits, increasing awareness of the tourists and safari drivers, limiting vehicle access to the parks, seasonal or night-time access restrictions, and strict enforcement of the speed limits inside national parks. 

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Karunarathna, S., Ranwala, S., Surasinghe, T. and Madawala, M. 2017. Impact of vehicular traffic on vertebrate fauna in Horton plains and Yala national parks of Sri Lanka: some implications for conservation and management. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9, 3 (Mar. 2017), 9928–9939. DOI:
Author Biography

Suranjan Karunarathna, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka

Suranjan Karunarathna is reading his Mater degree from the University of Colombo. His scientific exploration of biodiversity began with Young Zoologists’ Association of Sri Lanka in early 2000 and former president in 2007. As a field biologist he is conducts research on herpetofaunal ecology, taxonomy, and promot­ing science base conservation awareness of the importance of biodiversity among the Sri Lankan community. Also he is an active member of many specialist groups in the IUCN/SSC, and expert committee member of Herpetofauna in National Red List development programs, Sri Lanka


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