The N3 route runs right through our Conservancies, and as we all know, roads are pretty difficult for wildlife to cross, resulting in many fatalities.
Transport infrastructures are a common presence everywhere humans have settled and it is now becoming widely accepted that roads affect many aspects of ecosystems. Roads and traffic are destructive in two ways to animal populations; directly, via roadkill and indirectly, by fragmenting a population’s habitat. Roads therefore pose a threat not just to the survival of individual animals but also to populations.
South Africa has a legal and moral responsibility to conserve its biodiversity, especially species which are of conservation concern. Mitigation measures have been prompted mainly by the human-safety issue posed by animal-vehicle-collisions rather than the effects on wildlife. A variety of mitigation measures have been proposed globally to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife. Many mitigation monitoring studies have examined before and after figures for road kill rates, but little data are available that examine wildlife crossing structures and their use as an effective mitigation strategy for preventing road kill.
During June and July, the EWT ran training sessions for the staff of N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) regarding the issue of animals being killed on their road. The N3TC started collecting records of animals killed on their roads in 2011, as part of their on going safety.
The N3TC participated in a Road Ecology Conference hosted by the EWT in 2012, and co-sponsored the inaugural Green Mile conference in 2013. The N3TC have agreed to analyse the data they have collect with a view to implementing actions to reduce the number of animals killed on their route and provide training for staff responsible for dealing with safety hazards such as animals found dead on the road.
This year, the EWT compiled a report on the data collected by the N3TC which revealed a number of interesting aspects:
• 76% of all the animals reported as found dead on the road were wildlife species with domestic animals following at 15%.
• The Endangered Oribi has been reported as being killed on the road – a concern to both organisations.
• The most frequently killed animal on the road is ‘rabbits’, followed by domestic dogs, owls and jackal.
The recently held training programme covered topics such as what is road ecology and why is it important, the type of mitigation that can be considered to address the problem, legislation, and species identification. Training included an outing on Modderfontein Nature Reserve, where participants had the chance to identify species in nature using their new knowledge. For some this was the first time they had visited a nature reserve.
One of the dangers of removing apparently dead animals from roads is that the animal may in fact not be dead – including snakes. After a talk on snake identification and snake bite treatment, participants were able to touch snakes, which had a positive impact on their attitude towards snakes.
The EWT looks forward to continuing this exciting relationship with the N3TC and helping them reduce the number of animals killed on their roads. Not only is the death of wildlife (and livestock) a concern but so is the safety of the drivers and passengers using the road. By working together, we can create a safer environment for all road users.
This article is based on press releases issued by Endangered Wildlife Trust http://www.ewt.org.za You can contribute too. For more information on a very useful Phone App to assist with this data collection, see this article: http://kzncablog.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/roadkill-data-collection/