‘Tis the season to be jolly, unfortunately, ’tis also the season for an increased number of motor vehicle accidents.
At this time of year most of us are accustomed to the various Arrive Alive campaigns that warn of the potential perils that may besiege us humans on the roads, however scant attention is paid to how jolly-season driving affects our wildlife.
So what can YOU do to prevent wildlife fatalities over the holiday period?
o Keep to the speed limit – driving slower is safer for both humans and wildlife.
o Look for animals on the side of the road where there is vegetation, poor or no roadside fencing, or where a river bed might cross under the road.
o Animals may leap out suddenly. Watch for the reflection of their eyes in the headlights.
o Many animals do not recognise cars as a threat, and don’t know how to get out of the way – look out and give them time to cross.
o Where one animal is crossing, there may be more – be alert.
o Never throw food or litter out of your car – it attracts animals to roadsides.
o Keep a look out for dead animals on the road. If safe to do so, move them to the roadside verge to prevent scavengers feeding on the carcasses, and in turn becoming
Apart from the fact that collisions with wildlife cause human fatalities and cost up to R1.4-billion in damages each year, the effect on wildlife itself can be devastating. The Endangered Wildlife Fund has been involved in developing a standardised protocol for the detection of roadkill in South Africa, which will help users to identify species of vertebrate roadkill.
The protocol was first put into practice in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation area in Limpopo province. It found that bird species suffered most at the hands of silly-season drivers. Mammal species that were hit included Honey Badger Mellivora capensis, Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas and Leopard Panthera pardus. Perhaps the most worrying of the lot are nine African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus that were killed on the road in a 3-month period in 2012. With only 450 wild dogs in South Africa, it is evident that the way we drive can have a serious effect on their population numbers. So please, pay attention on the roads this season and do your bit to protect our fabulous fauna.
Note: post based on an Endangered Wildlife Trust press release. For more information contact Claire Patterson-Abrolat firstname.lastname@example.org