The need to establish methods of generating clean and renewable energy sources in southern Africa is as evident as ever before, although experts are extremely concerned about the potentially devastating impact that these projects will have on the environment if these plans are carried out without sufficient consideration for the local flora and fauna.
PowerNET developments (Pty) LTD have been approved by Lesotho government to erect 42 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850 kW) near Letšeng-La-Terae, on the north-eastern escarpment of the Maloti-Drakensberg. An Avifaunalist Specialist Report was compiled by well-renowned ornithologist Dr Andrew Jenkins, for the Environmental Impact Assessment of the development.
Findings show that, even with threat mitigation efforts, the anticipated impacts of the project on highly unique and sensitive avifauna will be of high to very high negative significance, rendering the project unsuitable. Despite this, the project is still going ahead.
Both Cape and Bearded Vultures in the Maloti-Drakensberg range have large foraging ranges and are likely to pass through the proposed Letšeng wind farm site on a regular basis, resulting in a high risk of collisions.
Using population models, KZN-based scientists Sonja Kruger and Ian Rushworth have demonstrated that even a small increase in adult mortality could cause the rapid decline and even local extinction of these long-lived, slow-breeding birds. Read more about the results of the study here: Southern Africa windfarm impacts- Rushworth, Krueger