Monday, May 22, 2017

Waze to Save Wildlife

Turtle crossing the road
A new venture that aims at reducing the number of wild animals that are run over on Israel’s roads has been officially launched by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and Waze, the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app founded in 2008 by three Israelis and acquired by Google in June 2013.

The new SPNI campaign calls on Israeli drivers to use Waze to report sightings of wild animals that were run over in open spaces and outside urban areas.

The reports will be used to map the roads that are most dangerous to wild animals and provide the data required for creating safe passages for wildlife, preventing further damage and reducing the number of animals killed.

Israel’s transportation infrastructure continues to expand rapidly, providing thousands of kilometers of roads that allow humans to travel conveniently from place to place, but these same roads are putting wildlife in danger. For gazelles, porcupines, badgers, turtles, hyenas, otters and many other species, crossing the road often results in death. Additionally, fragmented habitats disconnect animal populations from one another, causing demographic and genetic problems to many species, impairing their long-term survival.

With increasing awareness of the risks that roads pose to wild animals, Israeli planners have started to build special passages for animals when constructing new roads or expanding and upgrading old roads.

An eco-bridge was recently constructed as part of Israel’s rerouting of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway for this very purpose.

However, dozens of existing roads across the country lack similar solutions. This is why SPNI and Waze teamed up for this initiative, soft-launched in November 2016.

Over a four-month testing phase, Israeli Waze users embraced the app’s new function eagerly. In January alone, they logged 1,416 roadkill reports.

Using the accumulated data, SPNI experts will create a Wildlife Red Roads Atlas and examine which animal species are run over most and why, and what can be done to reduce the number of animal deaths and human injuries.

Source: Israel21c