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Urgent action needed for Ostrich industry

The ostrich industry is buckling underneath the Avian Influenza virus.

Young ostriches on an Oudtshoorn farm which escaped the bird flu cull. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN
Oudtshoorn,ostrich exports,Ostrich farmers,Gerrit van Rensburg,ostriches,avian influenza,highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1,National Department of Agriculture
Local

CAPE TOWN – The South African government has formed a task team to deal with the Avian Influenza currently decimating the ostrich industry.

Farmers have suffered losses of about R1 billion in exports in the last 18 months.

The first case of the virus was reported in Oudtshoorn in April 2011.

Now 50, 000 birds have been culled at a cost of over R60 million.

The Department's Wouter Kriel said they need to find an urgent solution to the problem.

“We have spent more than R60 million of tax payers money on this process. This has resulted in Minister Gerrit van Rensburg, together with representatives from the industry, meeting with the National Department of Agriculture to try and see whether we cannot find alternative control measures.”

He said other means of dealing with the problem besides culling needs to be found.

“We are killing the ostriches. The wild geese flying over heads are carrying the virus as well, this is why we’re calling for this to be investigated.”

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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