--> Endangered Wildlife on South Africa’s Unconventional Shale Gas Exploration and Extraction

2018 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition

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Endangered Wildlife on South Africa’s Unconventional Shale Gas Exploration and Extraction


The oil and gas industry has constantly had encounters with wildlife, which have largely been one of the intermittent expenses of the profession. The recent advance of utility-scale hydraulic fracturing, which has taken place at a gold-rush pace and with a corresponding level of excitement, has raised many new environmental concerns. The issues are quite serious, ranging from drinking water contamination to earthquakes, so it is not astonishing that wildlife has not been at the vanguard of the alarms. Nevertheless, as it turns out the wildlife issue, and not the contamination of the human water supply, may well be the most ominous for the industry. This seemingly anomalous circumstance stems from the array of regulatory exemptions granted to the industry in the statutes designed to protect human health and the complete lack of such exemptions in the Endangered Species. The problem is that fracking can be quite damaging to wildlife and ecosystems, and when the industry gets big enough, it inevitably begins to reach some of the more vulnerable species and their habitats Fracking comes with intense industrial development, including multi-well pads and immense truck traffic. That is since, contrasting a pool of oil that can be retrieved by a single well, shale formations are normally fractured in many places to extract fossil fuels, demanding multiple routes for trucks, adding habitat disturbance for wildlife and more pollution. These circumstances point to the fact that fracking may lead to livestock and wildlife habitat devastation in the farming districts of the Karoo and may have the likelihood of contaminating meat. In spite of the long-understood damage fragmentation causes to ecosystems and their wildlife inhabitants, the industry endures to focus on the tangible surface area exploited and not on the greater picture.