More penguins have died from avian flu at the colony at Cape Town’s Boulders beach, a popular tourist attraction and an important breeding site in South Africa, raising concerns for the species and for other seabirds.
David Roberts, a clinical veterinarian at the South African Foundation For The Conservation Of Coastal Birds, said at least 28 out of around 3,000 penguins in the colony had died from the disease since the middle of August.
“We have confirmed avian influenza in 14 African penguins since the middle of August,” Roberts said, adding that at least another 14 penguins were also affected but not tested for the virus.
“This is a continuation of the outbreak that happened last year and it affects several different species of sea birds and at the moment we are quite concerned because the numbers of penguins that are being affected and dying from the disease is going up,” Roberts added.
South African environmental authorities said on Sept 16 that the strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza was similar to that detected last year among a range of wild seabirds, including Cape cormorants and common terns.
Roberts said scientists were monitoring the situation because it was not clear how the outbreak would evolve.
Visitors stand at a viewing point at Cape Town’s famous Boulders penguin colony, a popular tourist attraction and an important breeding site for African penguins in South Africa.