IS SOUTH AFRICAN WILDLIFE AT THREAT FROM RAILWAYS?

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).

ELEPHANT

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.

ZEBRA
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

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About wendy collinson

Originally hailing from the UK, Wendy gained her Bachelor of Education in 1990, and spent 15 years teaching Physical Education in London to high school students. She moved to South Africa in 2005, beginning work as a research assistant with large carnivores, working on research projects initiated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Wendy’s education background has stood her in good stead as a tour guide, since she believes in an interactive approach, engaging guests in specialist carnivore research tours. In addition to her research and tours, Wendy is also the main organiser of the aptly named “BIKE4BEASTS” mountain bike race, organised annually to raise funds for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (www.bike4beast.coza) Wendy is a field worker with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife and Transport Programme. She recently completed her Master’s degree at Rhodes University, Grahamstown South Africa, which examined the impacts of roads on South African wildlife.
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