Some 750 pelicans were found dead in a UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Senegal, near the border with Mauritania, a refuge for several million migratory birds. An investigation is underway to find out the cause of these deaths.
The information was given by the director of the Senegalese national parks. A total of 750 pelicans were found dead, in a UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Senegal, near the border with Mauritania, a refuge for millions of migratory birds.
Rangers found the pelicans on 23 January in the Djoudj Bird Sanctuary, an isolated pocket of wetland near the border with Mauritania and a resting place for the birds that cross the Sahara Desert in West Africa every year.
An unverified video published in the Senegalese media showed hundreds of muddy pelican carcasses scattered on a beach, their feathers darker than their normal white. « We have taken samples for testing and hope to know in the near future what caused the death of the pelicans, » said Bocar Thiam, Senegal’s parks director.
« The sanctuary is a transit point for about 350 species of birds, but only the pelicans were found dead, » he said. Of the dead birds, 740 were younger and 10 were adults. The Senegalese authorities have closed the park and ordered the dead birds to be incinerated as a precautionary measure.
In early January, Senegal reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in a poultry farm in the Thies region, about 70 kilometres east of Dakar, resulting in the slaughter of about 100,000 chickens. Did pelicans die from H5N1? The investigation opened by the Senegalese authorities will certainly provide more information.