Electrocution on poorly designed power poles and collisions with electrical cables is a serious threat to many large raptors. With the ever-expanding energy network across both Lesotho and South Africa, the continuing threat of electrocution and fatal collisions will only increase.
Raptors and vultures instinctively seek out the highest vantage point as suitable perches from where they scan the surrounding area for prey or carrion. In flat, treeless habitats, power pylons often provide ideal vantage points for this purpose. Vultures are particularly at risk of electrocution due to their large wingspan, which can easily bridge the horizontal distance between phase-to-earth or phase-to-ground components of reticulation and sub-transmission networks. The gregarious nature of vultures and their habit of roosting together lends it to multiple electrocutions.
Research has established various methods that can be implemented to lessen the danger that existing and proposed power poles and cables pose to our vulture species. The most common way is to insulate dangerous live components, and to cut a gap in the earthwire. Sometimes perch deterrents are installed to keep birds away from dangerous areas on the structure. Despite this, power companies will continue to erect power stations, poles and lines without proper mitigation.
Ongoing industrial and residential development, especially in the Lesotho highlands, will result in continual construction of the ever increasing power network, further growing the threat to the resident vulture populations which simply cannot sustain the continued, accumulative loss of individuals.