In 2015 the Cape Vulture, which is endemic to southern Africa, was listed as a regionally endangered species. The Msikaba vulture colony is one of the primary conservation priorities for Cape Vultures in the Eastern Cape, with approximately 170 to 190 pairs regularly nesting on the cliffs of the Msikaba River Gorge.
As part of the environmental requirements of the N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) project, SANRAL recently conducted a vulture-monitoring programme to monitor the impact of the construction of the Msikaba and Mtentu Bridge haul roads on the Msikaba vulture colony.
Ornithologists were appointed to monitor the reaction of the vulture colony to controlled rock-cutting explosions taking place at the haul road construction sites. This monitoring allowed SANRAL to assess the potential impact of the construction on the vultures during breeding season so that any negative disturbances were prevented. If discernible negative effects were observed, no further blasting would have been allowed during the breeding season of March to July.
The Mtentu and Msikaba haul road sites are situated 12.8km north and 12km west of the Msikaba vulture colony breeding site.
“The vulture colony did not react in any way whatsoever to the blasting. When compared with the observations of baseline studies conducted on no-blast days, there was no difference between the vultures’ general activities before, during and after the blasting,” Project Manager Craig McLachlan said. The monitoring programme determined that the blasting activities that took place on the Mtentu and Msikaba haul road sites have, to date, not had any noticeable negative effects on the breeding Cape Vulture colony in the area.