Wildlife Road Traffic Accidents – A Biodiversity Research Project
“As a killer of men, the automobile is more deadly than typhoid fever and runs a close second to influenza … not only is the mortality among human beings high, but the death-dealing qualities of the motor car are making serious inroads on our native mammals, birds and other forms of animal life.” (Stoner, 1924)
Wildlife roadkill signal a threat to biodiversity that can have long-term effects on ecosystems (IUCN Red List, 2008). One million animals are killed each year on highways in the United States—these statistics do not account for animals that crawl off the road to die after being hit, and nor do they account for all species (Noss, 2002).
There is, at present, no standardised method for data collection of animals killed on South African roads and so we cannot quantify the threat of roadkill accidents to South Africa’s wildlife.
This project will conduct a critical assessment of Wildlife Road Traffic Accidents (WRTAs) in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), monitoring measures to develop an effective standardised toolkit that can be employed to better understand the factors contributing to WRTAs and consequently to assess threats to biodiversity from WRTAs across the country.
1. To develop a cost-effective and accurate method of monitoring WRTAs, resulting in a standardised tool-kit/protocol for collecting data on roadkill in South Africa.
2. To obtain baseline rates for WRTAs for all species, in one important conservation area in South Africa, namely the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA).
3. To assess the influence of animal behaviour, habitat type and land use, season, population densities, road physical characteristics and traffic volume on roadkill.
4. To develop recommendations for mitigation that can reduce the impact of road infrastructure on biodiversity, as well as contribute towards possible norms and standards for future road design and improvement.
5. To make recommendations to raise public awareness of WRTAs, and systematic monitoring, through developing “National WRTA Awareness Days”.
Road transects will be driven at standardised intervals in both summer and winter months. Both dirt and tar roads in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) will be driven (see map). All WRTAs will be recorded, with identification to species level whenever possible.
Figure 1: Map of South Africa
Figure 2: The study area – Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA)
This data will be used to develop a toolkit that will then be tested to obtain baseline WRTA rates in the GMTFCA.