Bridgestone South Africa

Roadkill Project goes South - Bridgestone

Jun 24, 2015

Roadkill surveys have been concluded in the North-West Province, and the focus has moved to Addo, near Port Elizabeth in the South-East of the country. The Bridgestone-sponsored surveys are being extended countrywide following the highly successful Pilanesberg National Park surveys, which were carried out during late 2014.

"We have targeted five parks across the country in which we will be doing these surveys," said Wendy Collinson, who runs the Wildlife and Roads Project for the Endangered Wildlife Trust. "The focus is on Addo for 2015, and in future years we will incorporate the Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and Hluhluwe Umfolozi," she explained.

The roadkill surveys consist of detailed studies by researchers to establish what numbers and types of wildlife are killed by passing vehicles. The eventual outcome of the project will be a report detailing ways in which conflict between animals and vehicles can be reduced. In many cases only the animal is harmed, but when larger wildlife such as buffalo or elephant are involved, the outcome can be fatal for vehicle occupants too.

"We hope these recommendations will find use across the world, not only in South Africa," Collinson commented.

Other aspects of the roadkill surveys include the use of questionnaires to gauge driver attitudes and habits. In the Pilanesberg survey, 'fake' animals were placed on the roads, with hidden observers noting driver reactions. It was found that roadkills in nature reserves quite frequently take place because the driver is distracted by wildlife along the roadside and is not watching the road as carefully as usual. It was also found that the number of road kills does not seem to increase with increased vehicle speed, which again suggested that it is driver attentiveness that is the major problem.

"We will be employing similar observation and surveying methodologies in Addo, to try and build up a picture of roadkill exposure across the country, since each habitat is different," Collinson said.

The roadkill projects can be challenging to researchers. During the Pilanesberg survey, elephant were drawn to traffic counting devices and damaged them, requiring that the survey team applied a daily coating of pepper and oil to the devices!

Bridgestone's National Sales Administrator, Chantel Baxter, said she was very pleased that the project was rolling out countrywide. "The roadkill pilot project showed great promise, and that has been confirmed with the data received after the Pilanesberg surveys," she said. "We are looking forward to Wendy's feedback from the Eastern Cape," she concluded.

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Bridgestone South Africa

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