A PROBLEM that seems to be unique to Tankwa Karoo National Park and surroundings is causing harm to the park’s inhabitants. Wildlife in this part of the world turn a blind eye to fences, causing them to get injured, or even run the risk of death.
To prevent injuries to the wildlife, the SANParks Honorary Rangers (SHRs) of the Boland Region did research and came up with a new way to make the fences more visible. While it is still early days, their efforts seem to have already made an impact.
“After some research and talking to people in other parks such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we were not yet closer to a solution,” says project leader Hennie Serdyn. “They don’t mark their fences. It is almost as if it is a problem unique to Tankwa, or perhaps it is not a big problem elsewhere,” says Serdyn.
It was quite a challenge finding a suitable solution, until the SHRS came up with the idea to manufacture thin stainless steel plates with a mirror finish measuring 50x150mm. These plates are then hung from the fences, spaced approximately 1.5m apart.
So far, the SHRs have finished tagging 1.5km of the fence, another 6km is set to be completed by the end of 2017. According to Serdyn, “the work is time-consuming and expensive,” and the park border fence is about 276km long. The SHRs will focus on the problem areas as pointed out by the park for now.
Traditionally, plastic markers are placed on the fences, but in this case it was not viable. According to Tankwa section ranger Hennie Delport, plastic will last about a year in the Tankwa Karoo sun before perishing. “There are some farmers in the area that hang water bottles on the fences,” says Delport. The advantage of the new plates is that they are visible at night too.
At the end of July, rangers found two red hartebeest carcasses in the Oudebaaskraal area where there are not yet markers against the fences. “They were not stuck in the fence, but could have run into the fence,” says Delport. It is too early to say if the new metal plates are fully effective, but so far there have been fewer recorded deaths in the area where they were put up.
By Rene De Klerk SANParks Times Pics Leon Strauss and Rene De Klerk
Did You Know: Tankwa Karoo National Park lies within the Succulent Karoo Biome, which belongs to the ‘25 richest and most endangered regions of flora and fauna on the planet, and the only arid region identified as a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International’, according to www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com