The use of fences for managing movements of livestock (and increasingly game and humans) is well-established and widespread in South Africa. While the adage “good fences makes good neighbours” may be true for humans, the unintended and largely unnoticed impact of fences on birds and other wildlife may be severe. Mitigation is essential.
In 2013 members of the public responded to BirdLife South Africa’s appeal for information on fence-related bird mortality and injuries. The study revealed some concerning statistics. Of the 36 species reported killed, 11 (i.e. African Grass Owl, Secretarybird, Blue Crane, White-backed Vulture, Cape Vulture, Martial Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Black Stork, Southern Ground Hornbill, Greater Flamingo and Black Stork) are threatened due to other human impacts. Other raptors (particularly other owls), waterbirds and grassland birds were also found to be vulnerable.