News about a possible Avian Influenza outbreak amongst wild seabirds broke last week – and continues to affect the coastal regions of the Western Cape with Dyer Island in the Overberg currently an area of great concern.
The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, said on Tuesday that efforts continue to bring the outbreak under control but cautions that the situation may continue for another few weeks.
“It is a very complex situation to manage considering these are wild seabirds all along the coast of the Western Cape. At the moment we are most concerned about Dyer Island where an estimated 500 birds per day are dying. Dyer Island is a breeding colony where the birds are in close proximity to one another and the infections are spiking.”
Other hotspots include De Mond Nature Reserve and the Bergrivier Municipality area where the outbreak was first seen.
“The next 14 days will be critical, and we continue to ask the public to work with us and not to approach or transport any sick or dead birds. Rather let us know so we can respond at speed. At the moment the Cape Cormorant species is most affected however, we are particularly concerned about the Bank Cormorant, a unique species of Cormorant which is extremely rare and may also be affected. We are also grateful for the cooperation and help from all the partners involved.”
The Disaster Management Centre also urges the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities in any birds to their local municipality, conservation authority or state veterinarian. The SPCA may also be contacted. Contact details for state veterinarians are available at https://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services-0#s=Animal-Health-and-Disease-Control