October is Transport Month here in South Africa, and emphasis is placed on the safety of the users of all forms of transport – that includes the safety of you, your family and friends, and our wildlife. Together we can all make a difference!
The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife & Transport Programme (EWT-WTP) hosted their annual “Green Mile” Conference on Road & Rail Ecology on 23 October 2013. This conference was a follow-up to the two workshops held in 2012 to facilitate discussion and collaboration among local, national and international road ecologists and practitioners. These workshops laid the ground work for the development of a 5-Year Road Action Plan which has been guiding the work of the EWT-WTP.
With over 30 delegates from the transport sectors, environmental consultancies, nature conservation and research institutions, the day provided an array of informative presentations and discussions. Miss Earth South Africa, Ashanti Mbanga, gave the opening address sharing some very inspiring words with us and set the scene for the rest of the day. The Conference then commenced with introductory lectures and concluded with focal discussions around pertinent issues central to ensuring that our transport infrastructure is safe for all users – human and wildlife.
Wendy Collinson (Field worker, Wildlife and Transport Programme), Claire Patterson-Abrolat (Manager of the Wildlife and Transport Programme), Marie Parramon-Gurney (Head of Business and Biodiversity, EWT) and Miss Earth South Africa, Ashanti Mbanga.
The aim of the Conference was to:
- Further increase awareness of the issues surrounding road and rail ecology;
- Further understanding of the challenges facing the various stakeholders with a view to addressing these;
- Look at ongoing research and identify gaps that need to be addressed;
- Determine to what extent wildlife is considered during the Environmental Impact Assessment process; and,
- Develop procedures to integrate practical mitigation measures into planning processes so as to achieve improved road and rail safety.
Presentations from: Livhuwani Nevhutalu (City of Jo’burg) and Julie Clarke (DBSA)
Furthermore, the Conference provided an opportunity for:
i) Setting the scene regarding road and rail ecology in South Africa;
ii) Setting developmental challenges for stakeholders in the roads and rail sectors; and,
iii) Collective discussions around possible priority actions, collaboration and strategic planning opportunities.
Presentations from: Willeen Olivier (DEA) and Adriaan Grobler (NMMU)
To download the presentations from the conference, please go to:
Delegates at the conference
The conference provided an opportunity to invite comments for the handbook, “The Road ahead: Strategies for Roadkill Mitigation”. The handbook is in draft format, with comments to be submitted by 30 November. The handbook is designed to be both practical and user-friendly and to provide an outline of key mitigation strategies and, to lend assistance and guidance to all who need it.
In addition, the WTP’s cellphone app. for recording roadkill data was also promoted. This will assist greatly with identifying roadkill hotspots across the country and ultimately creating a sensitivity map that can assist with road upgrade and design.
To download the link to the cellphone app:
“Type this link to the Safari browser on the phone: http://www.prismsw.com/clair/ios/. You should then get an option to click on an ‘install’ button. The app will only work on phones that work off the Android platform at the moment but an Apple version should be available shortly.”
We also have a very active LinkedIn discussion forum, entitled “Roadkill Research”. Please feel free to join the group, and participate in some of the global discussions. The forum currently has over 400 members from all over the world.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Rand Merchant Bank for providing the venue, Miss Earth South Africa for supporting the event, and DBSA, Bridgestone SA, Arrow Bulk Logistics, SANRAL and the N3 Toll Concession for providing logistical and financial support.