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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 have been detected in the Boulders Penguin Colony, and a further seven cases are suspected, according to a statement by the TMNP.
“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 flock, it poses a great risk to the agricultural sector,” Bredell said.
According to the TMNP’s statement, there are currently around 3 000 penguins at Boulders in Simon’s Town. Avian influenza is spread among birds through faeces and other bodily excretions, and by humans who handle sick birds.
Boulders still open to public for now
According to the 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 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 donation of R300 000 to SANCCOB specifically towards supporting its work with testing seabirds for avian influenza. – Press release, Western Cape Government