State-owned power utility Eskom has removed a section of an overhead power line that posed a hazard to endangered species, the Grey Crowned Crane.

This followed an assessment into an incident reported to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) by a landowner in which a Grey Crowned Crane collided with the overhead Eskom line on a property near Hilton, in KwaZulu-Natal, late last year.

The EWT, which has worked in partnership with Eskom since 1996 to mitigate the danger presented by electrical infrastructure to wildlife, explained that field officers went out with Eskomrepresentatives to assess the line and compiled a field investigation report.

“After deliberations, recommendations, meetings and assessments between the landowners,Eskom and the EWT, the section of power line was removed by the Eskom team, returning the site partially to its original state,” said EWT field officer Matthew Becker in a statement.

The move was described as a “major breakthrough” for the endangered birds, as it eliminated the risk of collisions in future.

Collisions with power lines and electrocutions on electrical infrastructure were inevitable with in excess of 500 000 km of power lines across South Africa.

The Eskom/EWT incident management system, or database, recorded some 2 900 incidents involving Eskom power lines, the bulk of which were mortalities on smaller distribution lines.

Becker said that, over the past 21 years, nearly 5 500 individual mortalities had been added to the database, 95% of which were birds, with vultures and cranes accounting for 25% and 24%, respectively, of the 141 species on record.

Crane species are heavily impacted as they often fly in low-light conditions when the line is less visible,” he explained.

The Eskom/EWT database hosts various key performance indicators to track the status and progress of incident investigations and incident recommendation reports, as well as the implementation of the recommendations.