In the area of the Delfina wind farm, in the state of Bahia in Brazil, Enel Green Power’s environmental discipline team uses satellites and GPS systems to study and protect felines living in the area.
A 6-year-old female puma: they’ve named her Vitória. She is the first “entry” in the monitoring programme launched by EGP’s environmental discipline team for the protection of the environment operating in the area of the Delfina wind farm that we are constructing in the Brazilian state of Bahia. While more than 1,000 people, including engineers, technicians and workers are on the job to bring the 180-MW plant to completion, ethologists and veterinarians are combing the surrounding areas of the plant under construction, which host a high diversity of animal species, in particular jaguars and pumas.
In Jaguar Ravine
The Delfina wind farm is coming to life far from inhabited centres, in an area located between the cities of Juazeiro and Campo Formoso, in the Boqueirão da Onça region, an area in the state of Bahia, with high environmental value. “Since the opening of the worksite for the construction of Delfina we’ve launched two projects for the protection of biodiversity.”
Jaguars and pumas have chosen the 900 hectares of the area as their habitual shelter, enough to lead the local population to name the region for them – in Portuguese Boqueirão da onça means “the ravine of the jaguar”. These species are top predators and play an important role to preserving healthy and functional ecosystems. Not infrequently, the felines push to the confines of the area that makes up part of the large sertão of the Brazilian northeast and move through the area of our wind farm.
Technology at the service of the environment
Environmental disciple’s team and consultants, made up of Brazilian specialists, has launched a programme to map the presence of jaguars and pumas in the area surrounding the field and to study their natural habitat. “Thanks to a system of satellite surveying and telemetry, the EGP team has developed a project to monitor the movements of the felines in the areas around the Delfina wind farm.”
The team of specialists has carried out several patrols in the area, setting up devices to capture specimens of the passing felines without damaging or hurting them. After days of stakeout and research, the system set up to intercept groups of jaguars and pumas sent its first signal. Going to the spot, localised with a GPS system, the team of biologists and veterinarians found a 6-year-old female feline: weighing 30 kg, at 1.55 metres long and 50 centimetres tall.
Roaming the “caatinga” with the Puma
“She was healthy and without any injuries or scratches on her pelt. We called her Vitória”, says Claudia Campos, remembering her first encounter with the specimen of pumas concolor who now lives free in the caatinga (semi-arid scrub forest), sending information to the EGP team.
“Vitória was given a collar that doesn’t hurt her in any way that allows us to track her movements. The device memorises the information and sends it to us via satellite.”
– Valéria Guimarães Ladeira, EGP environmental coordinator
The information the puma sends through the monitoring system is very important to know the habitual routes of the area’s felines and their movements in the area surrounding the wind farm.
“Most of our projects are in ‘caatinga’ and understanding the importance of these areas for those species is essential to greener our project design. There are only few researches regarding biodiversity in ‘caatinga’,” says Camilla Barcellos, EGP environmental specialist.
“This research project is completely aligned not only with EGP’s Biodiversity Policy but also with Brazil’s Biodiversity Legislation,” concludes Valeria Ladeira Environmental Coordinator
The Delfina plant, once operational, will be our biggest plant powered by wind energy in the country and to build it, we’ve established a relationship of reciprocal trust with the local populations.