Bird flu kills 750 pelicans in bird sanctuary in Senegal

Pelicans at the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary in Senegal, photo: still image from social media video Instagram/@David.W.Nystrom / Reuters
Pelicans at the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary in Senegal, photo: still image from social media video Instagram @David.W.Nystrom / Reuters

Scientific analysis has shown that bird flu killed at least 750 pelicans in Senegal’s Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. At first, the government had ruled out the disease.

On Wednesday, the environment ministry said the park had been closed to the public because 740 juveniles and ten adult pelicans had been found dead.

With a mixture of wetlands, savannah, canals and lakes, Djoudj is home to more than three million individual birds from almost 400 species.

“We have the results of the analysis. It is indeed bird flu type A H5N1,” national parks director Bocar Thiam told AFP. Thiam had initially ruled out bird flu, claiming that it only affected birds that eat grains, rather than fish-eating birds like pelicans. But that wasn’t true.

While the pelicans’ bodies and waste have been destroyed, Thiam said Friday that “we’ll have to do more” to prevent the disease from spreading.

At the start of the year, Senegal killed more than 40,000 birds after an outbreak of bird flu was detected on a farm in Thies in the west of the country. Almost 60,000 birds had died in the preceding weeks, the government said.

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