Field work for the Wildlife and Energy Programme

 One of the field officers of the Endangered Wildlife Trusts’ Wildlife and Energy Programme, Ronelle Visagie, travels a lot through the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the western and southern Free State to investigate powerline incidents. 

Ronelle recently travelled to a powerline 100 km southwest of Kakamas for an investigation, and also surveyed  seven powerlines in the Eastern Cape and one in the southern Free State.  Driving around our beautiful country does have its advantages and grants us as EWTers an opportunity to visit and experience different parts of our beautiful country.  

This month we share with you a few photographs of Ronelle’s recent journey to investigate powerlines.


Kakamas is in Namaqualand, a desolate part of the Northern Cape. Despite being situated on the banks of the Orange River, this area is typically very dry. Most people only ever pass this area en route to Namibia or the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Believe it or not, there are White-Backed vultures in Namaqualand. This picture of three vultures sitting on an electricity pylon was taken 100 km southwest of Kakamas.

Ronelle also passed two Cape Griffon Vulture roosting sites on her journey through the Eastern Cape and Free State. The one is near Zastron in the Free State. The other was seen between Burgersdorp and Jamestown.

The plants in this region are something special, especially because most are unique to this part of our coutry. Even though winter was approaching, some of the veld plants in this dry habitat were flowering making this visit colourful.

Because it was late in autumn, the Eastern Cape and Free State were beautiful. All the trees were showing off their autumn leaves, and the Orange Charmer shrubs (Pyracantha coccinia or Fire Thorn) were covered in berries. Unfortunately, the Orange Charmers are an exotic species.

A picture can tell a thousand words. Even though it was not very hot, this picture shows the importance of one tree. A flock of sheep gathered under it in the midday Sun for some shade

Namaqualand is well known for its Quiver Trees, which had started their annual bloom. Seeing these critically endangered giant trees flowering is a special experience, especially because they are one of South Africa’s most spectacular and rare aloe species.

The Orange Charmers were spread out in the Free State and Eastern Cape.

South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane, is the world’s most range-restricted crane. Although Ronelle did not see many Blue or Grey Crowned Cranes during her survey of the powerlines, she did come across this flock of more than 330 Blue Cranes on agricultural land near Venterstad in the Eastern Cape on her trip home.

The drier western part of the Northern Cape is also very well known for its characteristic Sociable Weaver nests. Social Weavers typically build their nests in Camel Thorn trees, but also have a preference for bare manmade structures, such as telephone and electric poles. These huge nests of straw and grass can be seen for miles and are often home to colonies of more than 100 birds.

Travelling through the Eastern Cape you are able to view beautiful mountains and rock formations.