(This note first appeared in Grus Grapevine, May 2011, the e-newsletter of the African Crane Conservation Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust. - Ed.)
During April and May it was possible to see the Eskom Transmission team marking the 4 transmission power lines in the De Aar and Hanover districts of the Northern Cape where the transmission power line monitoring project is taking place. The aim of the marking is to determine which of the devices – the pigtail bird diverter or bird flapper will work to make the power lines safer for large birds. With the power lines being a big threat to cranes in the Karoo, this will be great news to cranes if they work to prevent collisions. The fitting of the devices was completed by the Eskom helicopter team and 2 helicopter pilots. A man sat on the outside of the helicopter and fitted the device, while another man passed him the devices. These devices were put on certain sections of the transmission power lines – therefore not all the power lines were marked and this will make it possible to determine if the diverters are effective. The team worked all day to fit the bird diverters and worked very quickly. Many of the EWT Staff had a turn to go up in the helicopter and either fitted the devices or handed them to the person fitting them. We thank Eskom for this great effort and we look forward to learning a lot from this research project. A survey took place at the end of May and a total of 24 incidents were recorded (14 Blue Cranes and 10 Ludwig’s Bustards). This was the first survey in over 3 months making it the first survey since the power lines were marked as well as the time period before they were marked. We hope fewer incidents will be recorded in the future under the marked sections of these transmission power lines.