We have received some anecdotal information from Dr Heinz Kohrs (of the Pongola Animal Clinic) and Heike Zitzer, (the elephant researcher on the Pongola Game Reserve south and north and uPhongolo Nature Reserve).
Both confirm railkill for black and white rhino, with at least 17 elephant railkill between 1999 and 2011 along a 30 km stretch. Whilst many efforts have been made to clear bush on either side of the tracks, wildlife still continues to be killed. Heike has found animals with mostly hind, lower legs showing scratch marks and deep gashes or even broken or totally ‘amputated’ by trains as they attempt to cross the track.
Dr Kohrs reports that Transnet have put up concrete barriers at the entrance to cuttings and enforced a 60 km/h speed limit, which has shown a reduction in fatalities. Further research is being considered. (Photos courtesy of Heike Zitzer.)
We are also planning to conduct some work on the Modderfontein Nature Reserve and examine the effect of the Gautrain which passes right through the reserve. We have had reports of several bird and mammal species being struck by trains in the reserve, and are currently seeking funding to conduct a pilot study into the full impacts