Avian flu outbreak detected in Cape Town's penguin colony
September 16, 2022 / 5:57 PM
Sharjah24 - Reuters: South African environmental authorities have confirmed four new infections and another seven suspected cases in a new outbreak of avian flu at Cape Town's Boulders penguin colony, a popular tourist attraction and an important breeding site, officials said on Friday.
City and provincial officials said the strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza was similar to that detected among a range of wild seabirds, including Cape cormorants and common terns, since May last year after a similar outbreak in 2018 killed hundreds of endangered penguins and other birds.
African penguins, also known as jackass penguins, are the only species that breed on the continent but their numbers have been falling sharply over the years due to a loss of habitat and declining fish stocks.
"Closing the Boulders colony to visitors is not justified at this stage, but visitors must stay on designated boardwalks," said a joint statement issued by South African National Parks, the Western Cape veterinary services and bird conservation body SANCCOB.
There are an estimated 3,000 penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town close to Cape Town, authorities said.