Deadly bird flu spreads

There seems to be no halting the deadly outbreak of bird flu off the coast of Lüderitz.

14 March 2019 | Local News

JANA-MARI SMITH

The deadly bird flu virus that has wreaked havoc on the vulnerable African penguin population on Halifax Island off Lüderitz has spread to a nearby island, killing dozens more.

Scientists based at Lüderitz last week confirmed that the deadly virus had spread to Ichaboe Island, 40 km north of Halifax.

About 30 dead adult penguins have been found on Ichaboe Island since last week, adding to the confirmed death toll of more than 370 on Halifax Island since December.

In total, it is estimated that more than 500 adult penguins have died since the outbreak was first detected in December.

All carcasses are burnt by the ministry of fisheries and marine resources in an effort to contain the virus.

In addition, salt has been spread on wet guano patches in another attempt to thwart the virus, which thrives in damp and wet environments but doesn’t survive in a saline environment.

Scientists have expressed concern about the virus spreading to Ichaboe Island, where other vulnerable species breed alongside the penguins at this time of the year, including the critically endangered Cape gannet and the endangered Cape cormorant.

Last week, the fisheries ministry dispatched a research vessel to Halifax Island for the second time in two weeks to monitor the situation there.

Twenty-seven dead adult penguins were found on the island, in addition to three sick penguins. This indicated a slight reduction in the infection rate but was still a significant mortality, indicating the outbreak was not yet under control, Namibian Sun was told.

Worried observers say in addition to continued monitoring and incinerating carcasses as often as possible, it is crucial to keep sick birds away from breeding areas.

Further, strict biosafety protocols must be followed when people visit the island in order to prevent the virus from spreading to the mainland.

Local observers first noticed that something was wrong in mid-December, when dead penguins started washing up on beaches and were spotted in the sea by tour boat operators. Carcasses were then discovered on Halifax Island itself.

By mid-January it had become clear that the African penguins were facing a “major and unprecedented mortality event”, with at least 200 estimated to have died.

Ministry officials were accused of dragging their feet in identifying the cause of death, and it was only on 13 February that the ministry confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N8 strain of bird flu.

One of the most devastating aspects of the outbreak, according to scientists, is the impact of the disease on breeding birds.

Scientists say Halifax Island is one of the few African penguin sites where numbers had been increasing over the last few years, and not declining as elsewhere.

Before the bird flu outbreak, the island was home to about 7 000 adult penguins, including roughly 1 400 breeding pairs.

It is suspected that most of the dead birds were breeding birds, which could be disastrous for the local population as the birds only start breeding at five years of age and are monogamous.

Similar News

 

Police chief happy to be back

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Local News

City Police chief Abraham Kanime returned to his post yesterday morning after a 14-month suspension on allegations of serious misconduct.“I am so happy; it is...

Epangelo tali zula maakwashigwana

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Local News

Epangelo komasiku gokomeho otali ka pula aaniilonga yiiyambe nokufuta oshimaliwa shoopresenda 2 okuza koondjambi dhawo onga omukalo gwokuyambidhidha aniwa iinyangadhalwa yepangelo yokukwathela oshigwana.Omunambelewa Omulukuntu mombelewa...

Sand mining not traditional authority's fault

3 days ago - 23 May 2019 | Local News

The Uukwambi Traditional Authority cannot be blamed for the illegal sand extraction at Iiheke yaNakele and Onanime, which falls in its area of jurisdiction, its...

I owe no one - Guibeb

4 days ago - 22 May 2019 | Local News

Namibian ambassador to Germany Andreas Guibeb has rejected a news report by German newspaper Bild that accused him of abusing his diplomatic status and running...

Ofamili yuuvithwa nayi kefumbiko lyaali pasimaneko

4 days ago - 22 May 2019 | Local News

ILENI NANDJATOElifa Kuyewa Iita Shiindi okwa hulitha momasiku 7 Mei, konima sho a thiki poshipangelo shOndandjokwe Lutheran Hospital. Okwa fumbikwa konima yethimbo meendelelo momayendo...

Family pained by undignified burial

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Local News

The family of the 78-year-old man, who was initially suspected to have died of Congo fever, have held a memorial service for him at his...

Rundu water war

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Local News

Thousands of Tumweneni informal settlement residents, who are illegally occupying Rundu town council land, have had their water supply restored, after complaining that their lives...

Celebrate Iyambo's life

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Local News

Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani has described the late Dr Nickey Iyambo as a remarkable and dedicated leader whose life should be celebrated.Iyambo dedicated...

Omupeha presidende nale a hulitha

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Local News

Iyambo okwa li omuntu gwotango okuulikwa onga omupeha presidende gwoshilongo sha landula etalululo oshikando oshititatu lyekotampango momvula yo 2014. Okwa li ta gwanitha oomvula...

Nujoma a tyapula egwanitho lyoomvula 90 pEtunda

5 days ago - 21 May 2019 | Local News

Omukokoli presidende Sam Nujoma okwa holola kutya ina hala okuninga oshituthi shetyapulo lyoomvula dhe 90 oshinene omolwa onkalo yoshikukuta ndjoka ya taalela oshilongo.Ihe nonando ongaaka...

Latest News

10% water hike coming

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

The City of Windhoek has proposed a 10% water and 5% sewer tariff hike to come into effect in July. The City's recently announced...

Low earners excluded from drought...

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Disasters

Households with a combined income of more than N$2 600 will not qualify for state drought assistance, which has effectively excluded even low-level civil servants...

How did we get here?

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Opinion

How did we get to a situation, as a country, where our government is asking already struggling workers to donate 2% of the salaries as...

AMTA ends Fysal agreement

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Agriculture

Fysal Fresh Produce is to retrench 60 employees at the end of this month after its contract with the Agro-Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA) was terminated....

Geingob grills Nanso

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Education

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership received a grilling from President Hage Geingob on Wednesday during a meeting to discuss a number of issues,...

Fallout over 2% tax

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Economics

Political parties and analysts have called on the government to abandon a plan to introduce a “voluntary” 2% tax to fund drought relief.Prime Minister Saara...

Bild challenges Guibeb

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | International

The German newspaper Bild has rubbished a claim by the Namibian ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, that no arrest warrant had been issued against him.The...

Namibia ranks poorly for diversity

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Cultural

For a country that is described by many as one of the most diverse in the world, Namibia has ranked fairly poorly in a new...

Business ponders mass exodus

2 days ago - 24 May 2019 | Business

A recent survey by the Economic Policy Research Association (EPRA) of close to 600 businesses concerned about the government's policy direction shows that a staggering...

Load More