According to Birdlife International, two threatened vulture species in southern Africa may be at risk of extinction if a new wind power project in the mountains of Lesotho comes to fruition. The vultures are often killed by the spinning blades of the wind turbines, and experts are certain the wind power project will have dire consequences.
Both Bearded and Cape vultures are at risk if the wind farm planned by PowerNet Developments comes to pass. The vultures at risk are found nowhere else in the world. Only 200 breeding pairs of Bearded vultures exist in southern Africa and 60% of the population is found in Lesotho. The Cape vulture, which is only found in southern Africa is at great risk with only 12% of the global population remaining in Lesotho.
In a move that still astounds conservationists, in 2011, Classical Environmental Management Services released a report that did not mention the two vulture species and even went so far as to say there were no major environmental flaws to prevent the wind farm project from proceeding.
Local bird experts and wildlife organizations alike have strongly criticized the report decrying it for failing to identify the obvious threat. Experts also say the wind power project is environmentally unsustainable despite developers attempting to mitigate impacts. One such mitigation involves paining turbine blades to make them more visible to the vultures, but experts say this is far from enough of a mitigation.
The proposed wind farm is located next to a diamond mine, a joint venture between Gem Diamonds Ltd. And the Lesotho government. Experts are not currently sure if the diamond mine is the intended recipient of the new wind energy. The environmental impact includes feeding power into the Lesotho national electricity grid for domestic consumption and syphoning the rest to South Africa.
Experts agree, the wind power project poses a dire threat to the two vulture species and will lead to their extinction if it continues.