Dept puts brakes on seabirds research after avian flu outbreak

The bird flu outbreak is affecting several seabird species, such as the swift terns, African penguins and Cape gannets across the country's coastline.

Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Environmental Affairs Department has halted all research activities involving the handling of seabirds as a result of the spread of the H5N8 strain of avian flu.

The bird flu outbreak is affecting several seabird species, such as the swift terns, African penguins and Cape gannets across the country's coastline.

Stringent biosecurity measures are being implemented at various seabird rehabilitation centres and captive institutions to address the spread of the H5N8 strain of avian flu.

The department's Zolile Nqayi says that the current outbreak adds further pressure to the already declining seabird population.

“It affects all out stakeholders. It will be in place until we establish the extent of the problem. We’ve put security measures in place to ensure it doesn’t spread.”

Last year, 2.4 million layer hens were culled in the Western Cape following the bird flu outbreak, impacting on egg production and supply.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)