As the rainy season sets in on Christmas Island in Australia, the view of red coloured roads and bridges will be a common sight for the residents. Now as you move towards these red coloured roads, you will notice that they are not painted in red or something but they are covered entirely by the bright Red Crabs…!!..
These marching red crabs don’t allow any passerby to use that road or the bridge, blocking all passages. This is the season of mating and breeding for the red crabs of the island.
They seem to be seen ‘turning up everywhere in offices, shops, houses. As it’s a known fact that Australia is abundant with varieties of animals and red crabs are a primate, this is nothing new for Australians every year.
The purpose of migration
The migrating group is led by the male members crabs with the female crabs behind their heels, towards the Indian Ocean. They migrate from the jungles of Australia to the ocean to mate in or near the tunnels by the water.
Australia has constructed a crab bridge or an overpass for the red crabs to cross the pathway and migrate towards the ocean. Around 50 million red crabs can be seen on these crab bridges where they are ready to crawl over anything just to reach the destination.
The past observations show that the migration occurs usually from October to November and may continue till late December or January.
The red crabs dwell in the burrows by the ocean for two weeks as the eggs develop before slipping them into the ocean waters.
Arrangements of Australia
The annual occurrence of red crab migration is a task of utmost responsibility and caution. The authorities of the Christmas Island National Park make special arrangements for the crabs’ safe migration.
Some of their efforts are mentioned as follows:-
- Temporary barriers, warning signs and various warning boards are erected by the staff of the park.
- All the roads across the island are closed for careful migration.
- Bridges, underpasses and crossings are constructed for the passage of the crabs.
- Visitors who are keen to have a look at this mass migration are cautioned and they must abide by certain rules.
- Information on closed roads or diversions is provided regularly on radios, televisions etc.
In this way, Australia puts great efforts every year to safeguard the crabs from getting eliminated during this event. They are well aware of the ecological importance of red crabs that eat the leaf litter, keeping the forest floor clean and healthy.
This has helped the island to remain the owner of rich biodiversity.
The sad truth
Though the Australian authorities have always taken great measures for their safe travel to the ocean, the harsh reality persists. Many of the red crabs have perished during these migratory episodes.
Many crabs are crushed under the cars each year. Some crab deaths are caused due to dehydration problems when they pass through those areas which have been cleared off the trees or forests.
The extinction of these crabs can also be blamed upon the extinction of their natural habitats too. Their journey takes them through houses, shops, residential areas and tourist spots where they may be exposed to various threats to life.
Management of residents
The residents in and around the island do get affected due to this annual migratory programme. Their daily routines get disrupted due to road blockages, roads strewn with red critters and their houses welcoming the sudden entry of these cranks.
Residents of Drumsite settlement are locked up inside their houses due to the numerous red crabs on the road. People can find them erupting from anywhere in their homes, offices, shops or even cupboards.
Traffic has to be managed during these months, people have to be aware of all the blocked roads and diversions.
But still, the Australians have a lot of patience and a sympathetic attitude toward the crabs as well as their ecological balance. They abide by all the rules and are entirely different from the rest of the world in handling animals.
An optimistic end
Australia has set numerous examples for the entire world in the field of conserving, looking after and co-existing with wild animals and forests.
The migration of the red crabs is one such great example set by them..!!..
Such an initiative is appreciable and an extraordinary lesson to the entire world for being considerate towards our environment. We are the residents of our home, the Earth so it becomes our responsibility to make arrangements to safeguard it.
Let us all come together and hold each other’s hands to unite against our bad actions which possess a serious threat to the Earth..!!..
-by SAMBHAVI YADAV