Image Credit: Álvaro García
August 14, 2023
The roadkill is one of the different threats that wildlife faces, causing the populations of various species to be declining. This threat, increasingly common due to urban and rural development, has been little studied in Peru, with only one scientific publication and one master’s thesis on it. Therefore, there is a great information gap, which we are addressing with this citizen science initiative and sampling in specific areas.
This idea arose thanks to an associated project of the NGO BioS, the Desert Cat project, where several people shared records of desert cats (Leopardus garleppi) run over. Faced with this growing threat, we consider it essential to implement a citizen science platform in which travelers and wildlife lovers can share their reports. In this way, we are building a database and identifying the critical points on the roads where the most run-overs occur, with the purpose of proposing adequate mitigation measures. Parallel to the creation of this initiative, the Milpuj Private Conservation Area has prepared and disseminated informative posters on the threat of wildlife being run over in the Amazon Region.
Now together, and thanks to the support of the Pajonal Cat Working Group, we are implementing various actions to mitigate this threat. In the Amazonas Region, for example, the ACP Milpuj has installed 10 wildlife crossing signs, focusing on the pajonal cat (Figure 1), and in the Piura Region, we will install another 6 signs that will highlight the Sechura’s fox (Lycalopex sechurae ) and the opossum (Didelphis marsupialis). Likewise, in the north of the country we are conducting talks aimed at transport companies and the Highway Police in Huancayo, where we emphasize the importance of wildlife and how being run over affects their populations, as well as distributing stickers and posters related to the subject (Figure 2 and 3).
In addition to these activities, once a roadkill is reported and if logistics allow it, we are collecting the carcass and/or different tissue samples for further analysis. This is done to make the most of the tragic incident and thus obtain information on the biology of the species, with greater emphasis on rare species and little information on its natural history. Finally, our future idea is to be able to build canopy bridges, elevated and uneven wildlife crossings, and adapt viaducts, drains, and others, to reduce wildlife run over and facilitate connectivity between their populations.
To make the reports, the general public can send us the information through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or iNaturalist (Figure 4). Thanks to the contribution of citizen science, to date we have registered 413 wild animals, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals from 22 of the 24 regions of Peru. Unfortunately, similar to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, foxes and opossums are the most recorded animals.