Consultation and communication may require effort and time, but seem to pay-off in the long run. Especially so for the giraffe population of Marloth Park, who had been dodging electrocution for a while.
The demand for electricity within Marloth has grown significantly over the years and, in an effort to meet this demand, Eskom installed a number of additional transformers on the property that were not the appropriate height for the resident giraffe. This increased the likelihood of possible negative interactions and was responsible for four giraffes electrocuted since June of 2011.
Constant Hoogstad, Project Coordinator of the EWT's Wildlife and Energy Programme received a report of a giraffe electrocution in Marloth Park in June 2011. He investigated within five days of the incident and advised Eskom that, due to the number of electrical transformers requiring mitigation, an additional site visit involving all stakeholders should be conducted with urgency.
Subsequent site visits and meetings with Marloth Park landowners and Eskom representatives were conducted in July and December 2011, with the most recent consultation taking place in February 2012.
"The challenge for Eskom is to find a balance between the interests of industry, the residential electrification programme, and the effective use and conservation of resources.
In view of the complexity, scope and persistence of the problem of interactions between birds and mammals and power lines, Eskom and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) formalized their long-standing relationship by entering into a strategic partnership in 1996 to address the problem in a systematic manner on a national basis and to establish an integrated management system to minimize these negative interactions," commented Hoogstad.
"We are very happy to report that this matter has been concluded very successfully. Eskom heeded the advice offered by all concerned stakeholders and, on Sunday the 25th of March, virtually rebuilt both electricity lines running through Marloth Park.
An army of 250 men did the work quickly and efficiently with minimum impact on the environment within which they were working. They installed new transformers where necessary and lifted those that were too low and a threat to wandering giraffes.
A total of 106 transformers were moved to the correct height and intermediate poles have been replaced to increase the mid-span ground clearance where necessary.
From the EWT / ESKOM Strategic partnership, the Marloth Park Property owners and especially the Giraffe, ESKOM we salute you and your commitment to the environment."