Avian flu kills several pelicans in Mauritania and Senegal

On 23 January 2021, an ecological tragedy unfolded at the large Djoudj National Park of Senegal in which 750 pelicans (740 offspring and 10 adults) died, as reported by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Abdou Karim Sall.

The preliminary results of the laboratory tests performed in this regard suggest that it is a phenomenon associated with the avian flu (A type and H5N1 subtype).

In the wake of this tragedy, the Government officials took a series of measures to limit a potential spread of zoonosis cases, including the prohibition of access to the Park, the suspension of canoe trips and the destruction of carcasses and waste.

A few days after this incident, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Mauritania announced in a press release issued on Sunday 27 January 2021 that twenty-two adult pelicans and 245 offspring were found dead at the Diawling National Park, a nature conservation site and major tourist attraction in the South-West of Mauritania.

Following this discovery, several measures were put in place, such as the total closure of the reserve to visitors and the immediate suspension of all fishing and fruit picking activities as well as the introduction of an awareness-raising campaign on the preventive measures to be observed by people living and working in the reserve.

Committees for monitoring the sudden deaths of pelicans have been established, and consultations and information sharing have been arranged on this phenomenon between the managers of the Diawling and Djoudj National Parks, which are interconnected within the transboundary Biosphere Reserve of the Senegal River delta.