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ROADKILL STUDY STARTS………………

February 20, 2011

 

And so the project is finally underway. With funding from the Endangered Wildlife Trust and support from De Beers Consolidated Mines, the project officially started on 7 February, 2011.

It’s taken a while to get to this stage, with almost 2 years worth of pilot data collected, and funding eventually sourced, but now we’re underway. With the arrival of Anka Bedetti, the assistant research volunteer, we drove our first transect last week. Over a distance of 40kms, we found 16 roadkill, ranging from nightjars, to a monitor lizard. Birds and rodents appear to be the most common, but the rarer hits, and the ones that are most tragic, involve the larger mammals. Just the other day, three bat-eared foxes were hit on the road just outside Alldays – and are becoming a frequent victim of roadkill.

We are still refining the ‘toolkit’, or the protocol for collecting roadkill, and have spent the last two weeks conducting speed trials. This has involved driving 1km transects, 15 times in a row, at different speeds. ‘Fake’ roadkill was spread across the 1km, and moved each time I drove. My poor volunteer had to do the setting up the course each time, whilst I had to wait for her. The African sun was merciless – and the work was hot, tiring, and quite monotonous. However, we did produce some exciting results comparing speeds of 20kph right up to 100kph. We certainly noticed that my ‘eye’ was very trained to identify roadkill even at faster speeds, and it wasn’t until we drove at 100kph that I started to make huge errors.

Our ‘fake’ roadkill was made from rubber matting that we painted in various shades of brown. We had two different sizes, one that was ‘rodent’ size and then the other ‘scrub-hare’ size. It was so convincing, that we had a tourist vehicle stop us and ask if we had seen the turtle crossing the road (we don’t actually get turtles here!), and then we had a member of Mapungubwe National Park stop to say hello, and comment  ‘weren’t there a lot of tortoises crossing the road at the moment!’

Making the 'fake' roadkill

 

This promises to be a very exciting project, so please keep following my blog, as I’ll be writing regular updates now.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. CurlyKim permalink
    February 21, 2011 9:46 am

    Great to hear the project is now underway – exciting news!

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