Make our Kenyan Power Poles Safe for Birds

Make our Kenyan Power Poles Safe for Birds

2,924 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!

Why this petition matters

Started by James Christian

Electrocution by power poles is the fastest growing threat to raptors in Kenya.  Birds of Prey have undergone significant declines since they were first surveyed in Kenya in the 1970s, with many species showing declines of over 70% (Ogada et al, 2022).  Electrocution is one of the leading causes for these countrywide declines and immediately addressing these threats is crucial to preserving these magnificent birds.  

Kenya’s energy consumption is expected to increase by more than 6x fold, by the year 2031.  Also part of that plan is to dramatically increase the delivery of that power by new transmission cables, traversing landscapes heavily utilized by birds of prey.

Today, 50% of the living birds brought to the Soysambu Raptor Centre, one of Kenya’s principal bird hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, have been electrocuted. Many more are brought in dead, having all ready succumbed to the horrible injuries and burns associated with electricity.

The Problem:

Power distribution travels on overhead pylons and power poles that many birds of prey tend to use for hunting and perching. Electrocution and shock tend to occur on the smaller distribution poles rather than the larger transmission lines which pose more impact threats. When the smaller distribution poles are constructed in a hazardous configuration they become deathtraps especially for perch hunting birds of prey. This is especially acute when they are on the new cement poles that are reinforced with steel.  When some birds land on these poles and drop a wing to the lower wire, they complete a circuit allowing the current to travel through their body. The poles are most dangerous when it is raining.   The shock typically burns a wing and an opposite foot in a pattern that rehabilitators have sadly become very familiar with. Sadly the majority of shocked birds are able to fly a distance but tend to die of tissue death or necrosis at the site of their injuries. This often happens far from the site of the shock. 

The Solution:

These same poles can easily be constructed in a safe configuration and need not kill any raptor if done properly. Following a simple design implementation that has already been used by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KENTRACO) on existing powerlines a bird safe line can be produced at no additional cost. The solution is simply to lower the lines on the poles to 1 meter from the top so that no species of bird can touch the lines when perched.  An excellent example of a line with this existing configuration can be seen in places along the Kajiado Rd. On this line you can currently see raptors happily and safely perched on safe poles without issue.

For existing poles that are configured dangerously, simple baffles can be placed on the poles to discourage perching.  In places where the wires are too close, plastic coating can be put over the wires for a short distance.  The cost to rectify these lines would be minimal and a small investment toward avoiding the legal responsibility for the sharp declines that these internationally protected species are experiencing.

The Petition: 

We are asking for your signatures to send to The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to ask them to safeguard our power poles for birds. We also ask that KPLC and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KENTRACO) consult with the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust and other leading bird of prey experts and apply their ideas and those here, to safeguarding our powerpoles.

We can only save our birds by making our concerns public and standing up for the birdlife that makes Kenya so special.  As illustrated above this may be at no cost for future poles and at limited cost to fix the existing poles that are all ready constructed.  Please sign here to send a message to The Kenya Power and Light Company that our wildlife is important to us and that we can easily deliver our electricity without compromising the welfare of our birds.

2,924 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!