Antarctic Penguins Could Face Extinction Due to Bird Flu – UK Official
MOSCOW, September 25 (Sputnik) – Antarctic penguins may face mass extinction if the bird flu epidemic reaches the continent, the head of the Polar Regions Department for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jane Rumble, said on Monday.
“It [the potential infection of penguins with bird flu] could be absolutely devastating … We’re saying when, not if,” Rumble was quoted as saying by UK newspaper The Telegraph.
The official did not specify how many birds could be wiped out, but experts believe it would be a large number, given penguins’ tendency to live in tight colonies, the newspaper reported. The infection could get to the Antarctic from South America, as over 100 million penguins migrate to breeding sites on the mainland, the report added.
Tourists traveling on passenger cruise liners could be banned from coming ashore in the Antarctic this year due to risks of bringing the infections, while those who do go ashore may have to undergo a disinfection procedure, the report also said.