MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Wildlife announced that it has finalized the installation of insulators on medium-voltage power lines to protect birds from electrocution in the Farasan Islands Reserve.
This comes as part of a project implemented in cooperation with the Saudi Electricity Co. to install insulators in all spots that are hazardous for birds.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Salem, director of the birds department at the National Center for Wildlife, told Arab News that power lines are one of the main fatal threats to migratory, endangered and resident birds, as they negatively affect them and their habitats in their breeding, wintering and migration grounds.
He explained that 130 years ago, electrocution caused by medium-voltage power lines became one of the main threats to migratory and endangered birds all over the world.
He also pointed out that many bird species suffer great losses and are significantly decreasing in number due to electrocution.
Owing to the Kingdom’s important location for migratory birds between Asia, Europe and Africa, the center is committed to protecting, developing and ensuring the sustainability of wildlife and biodiversity in terrestrial and marine environments. It has conducted studies and research on the risks of power lines in some areas that are important for birds, which play an important and crucial role in environmental balance and biodiversity.
Al-Salem added that the center has documented the death of many bird species due to electrocution, such as Aquila Nipalensis, Pandion Haliaetus and Pelecanis Rufescens.
He revealed that the center has started preparing the program and is adopting global best practices to reduce risks of bird electrocution, installing insulators on medium-voltage power lines in Ushaiqer and Al-Qunfudah.
The project was carried out in partnership with BirdLife International and the Saudi Electricity Co.
“Utility poles are attractive locations for many birds in open regions with low tree density, where they look for their preys and watch out for hunting, in addition to poles close to garbage bins where food is available,” he said. “Medium-size and large birds face the risk of electrocution when they’re sitting or perching on utility poles or the connected cables.”
He explained: “Electrocution occurs when birds touch the conductors, as electricity travels through their bodies, causing severe and deadly injuries and burns that can set fire to the surrounding dry plants. Death can also occur after they fall from the pole to the ground and get crashed immediately after electrocution.”
Al-Salem stated that 682 studies were conducted to assess the risks facing raptors and birds migrating across the Eastern Mediterranean trajectory from breeding grounds in Europe to wintering grounds in the Middle East and Africa, which extends across 13 countries, as part of the “Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” project funded by the EU.
They include 52 studies carried out inside the Kingdom, and aim to determine the threats facing birds, limit hazards, and implement appropriate measures to protect birds, as 1 million predatory birds migrate through this trajectory annually, including 12 endangered species.