Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, supports the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) in its call to the public not to approach, touch or handle seabirds, as four new cases of avian influenza has been detected in the Boulders Penguin Colony, and a further seven cases are suspected, according to a statement released by the TMNP today.
“Our Disaster Management Centre has been alerted of these new cases. Avian influenza holds almost no risk to humans, but if transmitted from wild seabirds to poultry flocks, poses a great risk to the agricultural sector,” Bredell said.
According to the TMNP statement, there are currently around 3000 penguins at Boulders in Simon’s Town. Avian Influenza is spread between birds through faeces and other body excretions, and by humans who handle sick birds.
According to TMNP, the Boulders colony will not be closed to visitors at this stage, but the public is asked to stay on the designated boardwalks and report any sick looking or dead birds to the TMNP management at 021 786 2329/021 780 9100, or to the South African Foundation For The Conservation Of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) at 021 557 6155. Alternatively, the penguin rangers can be contacted at 064 844 9075.
The Western Cape Department of Local Government, through the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre, earlier this year made a R300 000 donation to SANCCOB specifically towards supporting its work with testing seabirds for avian influenza.
Source: Government of South Africa