Wildlife and Roads Project
South Africa has Africa’s most advanced rail network which connects all the major cities. These lines cross a variety of landscapes from urban developments to agricultural farm land and wildlife conservation areas, often bringing trains into conflict with wildlife.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
A search on Google Scholar using the words ‘roadkill’ and ‘railkill’ revealed 15,800 results for roadkill and only 13 for railkill, highlighting a vast paucity of data for studies that examine the impacts of railways on wildife. Of these 13 studies, one was conducted in American Samoa (and focused on birds), the second in Norway, with the other 11 in North America, focusing on large mammals (e.g. Black Bear and moose). Collisions with smaller mammals and birds are also poorly documented, with no baseline data available at present for South Africa.
Transnet is investing R82 billion over the next five years, of which R40.8 billion is being spent on upgrading freight rail infrastructure and rail engineering. The upgrading of the freight rail infrastructure is key to the objective of shifting more freight from the road network to the rail network as well as finding the balance between road and rail in respect of the transportation of goods.
This situation demonstrates the urgent need for such an assessment, especially considering the rail plan infrastructure developments laid out in the National Development Plan: Vision for 2030.