On the mend

June 10, 2015

When a winter storm brought down 35 kilometres of difficult-to-access fencing at a South African nature reserve, the fate of rare animal populations hung in the balance.

Combra combi breaker

One of the largest private nature reserves in South Africa, Komsberg Wilderness Nature Reserve spreads out over 125 square kilometers of mountainous terrain. Formerly a 300-year-old sheep farm, the reserve was established in 2002 by the Wildlife For All Trust to restore a number of species, including kudu, springbok, Burchell’s zebra, black wildebeest and the endangered Cape mountain zebra. In mid-2012, reserve staff were busy upgrading the reserve’s fencing in the eastern portion – they planned to introduce cheetah – when an unprecedented winter storm’s freezing rain brought down 35 kilometres of fence. The reserve is operated by unpaid professionals, and it relies on businesses for specific material donations. Wussy Gardner and Vicky de las Heras, two Komsberg staff members, were able to temporarily prop up the huge length of fencing in the course of just four days. Fortunately none of the reintroduced animals had left the area, but the reserve desperately needed a more durable solution. An even stronger fence would require an additional 2,000 metal Y-posts and 380 wooden posts, all dug down into rocky, mountainous terrain. This work would require a rock drill and a breaker, along with an accompanying generator. However, the reserve does not maintain vehicle access to the fence (to preserve as much vegetation as possible), so all equipment and fencing materials would have to be carried long distances by hand. The ideal solution was found in Atlas Copco’s Cobra Combi, a portable combination rock drill and breaker with a built-in gasoline tank. Atlas Copco’s South African partner company donated the necessary equipment and sent a trainer from Johannesburg to teach the staff how to use it properly. Written by Linas Alsenas

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