The recent discovery of another 4 Cape vultures found electrocuted by the Eskom distribution network in the Eastern Cape, should ring alarm bells for the environmental management division of Eskom, writes Kerri Wolter.
The South African Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom) network of power lines are known to have a detrimental effect on the Vultures (specifically the Cape vulture) and raptor populations with many of the birds being either maimed or electrocuted. Other species affected by this power line network include species like the cranes, bustards and storks.
Vultures in Africa are decreasing at an alarming rate with multiple threats causing a steep decline in their numbers. One of these being the negative impact the Eskom grid has on the survival of the vultures.
Cape Vultures are classified as regionally endangered and globally vulnerable with under 4000 breeding pairs left. The Cape Vulture is the only endemic vulture species to southern Africa and has already become extinct as a breeding species in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
During 2015 Vulpro has been inundated with maimed birds due to a direct negative interaction with the Eskom network. A large percentage of these birds collide with the infrastructure resulting in permanent wing damage. The majority of these vultures will never be able to be released. In addition to this a large number of electrocuted birds have been reported. Should this trend continue, the Cape Vulture in particular, will face imminent extinction.
Eskom has a history of re-active mitigation as opposed to pro-active mitigation and continues to operate largely in this manner. Despite numerous pleas for this attitude to change, this manner of ‘treating’ the problem continues to operate. It is now more than ever, vital that Eskom become more active in preventing the total decline of all vulture populations in Southern Africa.
Vulpro will continue to tackle conservation of African vulture populations for the benefit and well-being of society, however expects that Eskom will improve their approach and attitude towards improving the status of their infrastructure to minimise the negative affect it is having on the vulture populations of South Africa.