Nearly 200 seals buried in a day in Western Cape, but avian influenza not suspected

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The Western Cape government says that dead seals are dying of malnutrition and that their deaths are not linked to avian influenza, which can affect other species. (File image: Getty Images)
The Western Cape government says that dead seals are dying of malnutrition and that their deaths are not linked to avian influenza, which can affect other species. (File image: Getty Images)
  • The Western Cape provincial department of environmental affairs says it is investigating the issue of dying seals on the coast.
  • Meanwhile at least 16 514 wild birds have also been reported dead in the province.
  • Last year 5 000 seals were found dead in Namibia. 

The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre says it is aware of reports of seals being found dead on the West Coast.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the deaths are, however, not linked to avian influenza but malnutrition.

The department said 144 seals were buried between Laaiplek and Dwarskersbos, and 50 at Elandsbaai on Tuesday morning.

Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell said the provincial government is looking into the deaths which have been occurring over the past weeks.

"The dying seals are not linked to the avian influenza outbreak. Rather it appears that the seals are dying due to malnutrition.

"The situation is still being investigated. In addition, we are urging the public not to feed any seals despite the concerns about malnutrition.

"The animals remain wild creatures and must not be made dependent on human interaction for survival," Bredell said.

READ Thousands of dead seal pups wash ashore in Namibia, says conservancy group

He added that the avian influenza crisis in the province was not over, but the number of dying birds was declining.

At least 16 514 wild birds have been reported dead, majority being Cape Cormorants.

"Yesterday roughly 150 dead birds were found across the province in the affected areas. The bulk of the dead birds were on Dyer island where 122 Cape Cormorants were found."

Bredell said efforts to address the outbreak were continuing and the public is urged to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities in birds to their local municipalities, conservation authorities, the state veterinarian, or even the SPCA and the NSPCA.

Last month News24 reported scientists were finding worrying signs of dying seals, a repeat of the 5 000 that were found dead in Namibia a year ago.

Dr Tess Gridley, founding director of Sea Search Research and Conservation said:

"We have found animals across all age ranges from aborted pre-term pups, where the females just had the pup and then deserted it straightaway, to sub-adult males literally dying on the rocks."

Gridley said then that the adult seals could be aborting because they were simply too hungry, which mirrored last year's tragic die-off in Namibia, which made global headlines.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Rand - Dollar
15.53
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
21.14
-0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.60
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.17
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.3%
Gold
1,813.13
-0.0%
Silver
23.41
-0.3%
Palladium
1,897.50
-0.3%
Platinum
977.50
-0.8%
Brent Crude
87.51
+1.2%
Top 40
68,282
0.0%
All Share
74,956
0.0%
Resource 10
74,510
0.0%
Industrial 25
94,294
0.0%
Financial 15
15,338
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE