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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Yucatán’s fauna at great risk on highways and roads

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Highways are a great danger to all animals, even the mighty jaguar, on the Yucatan Peninsula. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Yucatán’s streets and roads are becoming increasingly dangerous for both domestic animals and wild fauna.

In the past year, over 300 wild animals have been found dead on Yucatán’s roads and highways, according to Mexico’s environmental ministry, Profepa.

Over the past several years the numbers had been even worse, at over 500. But environmentalists say that the decrease is likely temporary, the result of a reduction in mobility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost all of these animals, many of which belong to endangered species, died as the result of collisions with motor vehicles. 

The deadliest roads for wild animals in the state include the Mérida – Campeche highway and the Yucatán Route 27 along the northern coast. 

Among the most affected species are badgers, raccoons, pelicans and flamingos. Reports have also included spider monkeys, ocelots and alligators.

Highways are also problematic because they limit the area over which larger terrestrial animals such as jaguars and tapirs are able to safely roam for food.

Earlier: Wild cat found dead at a country club entrance

The problem becomes exponentially worse when talking about domestic animals. Every month authorities in Mérida collect the corpses of approximately 2,800 cats and dogs off city streets.

One potential solution would be the installation of wildlife corridors to allow animals to safely cross the road. 

Tren Maya officials announced in 2019 that the ambitious rail project would include wildlife corridors designed to protect the region’s endemic species, especially critically endangered animals such as Jaguars. 

The Tintal – Playa del Carmen toll highway has taken a similar approach, but in this case the “corridor” runs above the road and is designed for arboreal species such as monkeys. 

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