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More birds mysteriously dropping dead in Eastern Cape

One of the several birds found dead in the Qonce area.

Supplied


More dead birds are mysteriously dropping from the sky in Qonce (King Williams Town) with carcasses now also picked up in East London, Berlin, Stutterheim, Gqeberha and St Francis Bay.

Last week, a warning was issued by the SPCA, urging members of the public to not pick up these birds without surgical gloves as it is not yet clear if they have died from poisoning or a virus.

Neville Gaines, who owns a snake and reptile rescue organisation, first noticed the dead birds around Qonce and raised the alarm.

According to Ganes the number of dead birds reportedly found in Qonce has now increased to 76 from 52 last week.

He said 26 dead birds have been reported in East London, four in Berlin and two cases including a duck in Stutterheim.

Four cases have now also been reported in Gqeberha, according to well-known snake handler Mark Marshall who is the owner of Sandula Conservation, as well as at St Francis Bay.

Marshall has warned that the public should stop feeding birds in their gardens and should not let their pet birds be taken out of their cages.

He urged bird owners to ensure that no seeds fall out of their aviaries to avoid attracting other birds to their gardens.

“ People must refrain from feeding birds in their gardens now because that’s a communal area where a lot of birds get together and eat. In my opinion, it’s viral so could spread that way very easily,” he said.

He said the birds that are being infected in the area are Doves and Pigeons and that they are communal feeders.

He also issued a warning to the public to wear a mask and gloves if they have to handle a dead bird, just in case it’s something that can spread to humans.

Bird carcasses were sent to labs in both Komani and Pretoria for testing last week and the results are still outstanding.

Pet owners have been warned not to feed these dead birds to their animals as their cause of death has not yet been determined.

A spokesperson for the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) Samkelo Ngwenya says it is difficult to speculate what the cause of death in these birds could be, but if it spreads to more areas it could be a disease.

Ngwenya says at this stage it could be anything from climate change to air pollution or even migration.

He says the SPCA and Municipal Health Services are still investigating.

Symptoms to look out for in ill birds include puffiness, inability to fly, very tame, loss of balance and disorientation, and shallow breathing.

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