Power lines are electrocuting birds in Kenya

Augur buzzard flying, animal news
Augur buzzard, photo: Canva

The number of birds getting electrocuted in Kenya is going up. Conservationists said birds get hurt by the upgraded electricity network, where wooden poles are replaced with steel-reinforced concrete, which can be electric.

There are also inadequately insulated power lines hanging between the poles, conservationists added. Combined with the lack of warning markers on the cables, Kenya’s already dwindling bird of prey population is on its way to extinction.

“Thirty years ago, the birds were coming in being hit by cars, diseased… or hitting things like clothes lines or …windows,” said Simon Thomsett, who runs a bird rehabilitation center. “Now … the vast majority is electrocution.”

Two men at the center attach a prosthetic leg to a large female black and white augur buzzard. The female is one of many injured birds who, like her, have been crippled by electrocution. The shock kills many birds or leaves them crippled; they either collide directly with power lines or land on them.

In the past 40 years, Kenya’s population of augur buzzards has plunged 91% due to electrocution, habitat loss, and poisoning; hooded vultures are down 88% and long-crested eagles by 94%.

In some areas of South Africa, bird flight diverters have been successfully introduced to reduce electrocution. “These devices can reduce collisions by over 90% for some species,” said Lourens Leeuwner from South Africa’s Endangered Wildlife Trust.

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