In the Western Cape, an outbreak of Avian Influenza is killing over 700 wild seabirds per day. To prevent the sickness from spreading, Anton Bredell, the provincial minister for local government, environmental affairs, and development planning, said authorities had been cleaning up possible outbreaks and removing dead and sick birds all weekend.
Over the weekend, 700 dead birds were recovered from various locations around the province, with the Bergrivier Municipality and Dyer Island in the Overberg proving to be the most popular. Cape cormorants make up the majority of the cormorants afflicted. It’s especially tragic considering earlier this year’s rescue and rehabilitation of 1,700 Cape cormorant chicks.
It was crucial, according to Bredell, to stop the sickness from spreading. This suggests that no one should attempt to assist or relocate any sick birds. This is still a serious problem, with fragile wild species like cormorants bearing the brunt of it. This is a highly contagious, bird-borne, incurable disease that cannot be prevented or treated. he declared.
The SPCA and local veterinarians are monitoring and handling the situation, as are many municipal and conservation authorities, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob). Environmentalists have been watching the spread since May when the virus was first found in wild seabirds.
There is suspicion that the recent spate of mass mortality is related to the start of the breeding season, according to Bredell. Sanccob reported collecting 1,500 dead birds on Thursday, the majority of which were Cape cormorants. The signs of the disease differ but look for tame behavior or weakness, muscle twitching, and seizures, according to the organization.
In January, a two-day collaborative effort including different marines and conservation organizations rescued over 1,700 abandoned Cape cormorant chicks from Robben Island. A joint statement from the rescuing organizations at the time stated that an investigation had been begun to uncover possible reasons for the chicks’ abandonment.
The main reason, according to Sanccob research manager Katta Ludynia, is a shortage of food. Citizens should exercise caution and report any odd bird deaths to their local municipality, conservation body, or state veterinarian, according to the Disaster Management Centre.