Cape Town’s penguins hit by bird flu

The latest victims of bird flu in South Africa have been four African penguins in a colony at Boulders in Cape Town.

The Boulders Beach colony has become a major tourist attraction with a boardwalk viewing site and some tourists going down to swim with the birds. Now visitors are restricted to the boardwalk and are advised to shower and change before visiting any other places where poultry is kept.

Since the first pair took up residence at Boulders in 1983, the colony has grown to some 3 000 birds. Authorities believe that closing access to the penguin colony is not justified at this stage, but they are keeping a close watch on developments.

Cape seabirds have been hard hit by bird flu. Recent outbreaks have killed some 24 000 Cape cormorants, according to Ronnis Daniels of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob).