The Western Cape is currently battling the ongoing outbreak of Avian Influenza that has grappled the wild seabirds in the province, which now appears to have spread to South Africa’s endangered Cape cormorants population.
The devasting outbreak appears to be killing around 5% of the world’s remaining population with around 12 000 dead cormorants being recorded so far, reports EWN.
“We know that we have over 12,000 dead cormorants so far, which is most likely underreported,” said Katta Ludynia, research manager for the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.
Unfortunately, this is not good news for these seabirds as they number around 234 000 adults, choosing to live on the coast stretching from South Africa to Angola.
According to reports, around 500 of these birds are dying each day, but not all corpses wash up on beaches and are often washed out to sea. This could mean that the death toll is a lot higher than this.
With a major strain currently on their food supply due to overfishing and declining fish stocks, this particular outbreak of bird flu could be hitting the cormorants a bit harder due to lack of food.
“There is very high commercial fishing pressure on sardines, but there have also been environmental pressures related to climate change,” Ludynia said.
The environmental situation along the Western Cape’s coastline has only been exasperated by the mass deaths amongst the seal population. According to IOL, thousands of dead Cape fur seals have washed up on the shores of Shelly Beach, Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay with no explanation as to how they died. However, scientists currently probing into the situation believe that the avian flu may be playing a role in this dire situation.
Picture: Jenny Parson | Twitter