Bridgestone South Africa

Bridgestone funds new roadkill study

Jul 10, 2014
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Tyre maker Bridgestone has announced that it is funding new research into deaths of wild animals on South Africa's road network. This is the second such project to be funded by  Bridgestone – a 2012 roadkill study in Limpopo revealed that over 120 days, 1121 animal deaths were recorded.

The new study will take place in Pilanesburg National Park, north-west of South Africa's economic heartland of Gauteng, and will be run by the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Wildlife and Transport Programme (WTP). The chief researcher will be Wendy Collinson, who conducted the initial research in 2012, and was recently awarded the Infra Eco Network Europe's 2014 Personal Award for her work in road ecology in South Africa. She has been invited to receive the award at the IENE conference in Sweden in September 2014.

"Wendy's work has been ground-breaking and Bridgestone is pleased to be funding this new phase of her research," said Bridgestone's CSR General Manager, Chris Terblanche. "Roadkill
research is not only important from an ecological standpoint, but also contributes to road safety, because crashes with large wild animals can be fatal to vehicle occupants too," he added.

The Pilanesberg National Park in North West Province is the first South African park to support the WTP roadkill research. Pilanesberg is the third-most frequented park by tourists from both within South Africa and abroad, and is managed by the North West Parks and Tourism Board. The Park occurs within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation - commonly referred to as Bushveld – and has a rich diversity of birds, mammals and plant species.

Collinson said that local and international evidence suggests that roadkill is a real threat to the survival of a variety of species. "During recent surveys in the Pilanesberg I found 23 dead animals on the road including terrapins, snakes and rodents," Collinson said. "There were also a number of frogs and birds," she explained.

Drawing on previous research, Collinson said that roadkill is known to peak between January and April in South Africa when migratory birds are present and reptiles, amphibians and mammals are more active. However, she said that the number of casualties discovered in May was surprising. "We conducted approximately 234 questionnaire surveys among members of the public during our May survey. Of these, 141 said that they had noticed roadkill outside of protected areas, whilst only 19 said that they had seen roadkill in national parks. These included tortoises, birds, snakes, and even a rhino," she said.

The WTP has started analysing the questionnaires in detail and will conduct a further survey in the Pilanesberg during October 2014. Collinson also encouraged motorists to become citizen scientists by contributing to roadkill research. The project's home page is http://www.ewt.org.za/WTP/wtp.html and a smartphone app can be downloaded from the page which assists motorists to submit geo-tagged photographs of any roadkill they encounter.

Bridgestone's Chris Terblanche encouraged motorists to download the app. "The long term outcome of this research will be to gather significant amounts of research which will assist conservation policymakers to further protect South Africa's unique diversity of wildlife," he said. "Wildlife is an important part of South Africa's tourism appeal and we congratulate Wendy on her well-deserved award for her roadkill research," he concluded.
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Bridgestone South Africa

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