Avian flu and migratory birds

The poultry flu strain known as H5N1 continues to move across the world. It is not yet clear how the disease is spreading. Movement of domestic birds seems to have a significant role, but migrating water birds may also be involved. Although this may be probable there is still no scientific data collected to prove it. In any case Seychelles is not at risk from migratory birds.
Seychelles is not on the Eurasian migratory flyways. For the Africa region there are four main entry/exit points for migratory birds. Two, the Eastern Mediterranean Bab al Mandab and the River Jordan to Nile Valley corridor take birds directly to East Africa, but not Seychelles. We do get vagrants that appear occasionally or annually as individuals or in small numbers.

Of the migratory species that have died from H5N1, the Little Egret, Ruddy Shelduck, Peregrine Falcon, Black-headed Gull, possibly Brown-headed Gull occur as individuals or in very small numbers in Seychelles. Other water bird species such as the Garganey (or Sarcel) occur in small numbers annually but have not been recorded with N5N1. Individuals of Feral Pigeon and Grey Heron (or Florentan) have also died from H5N1. But these species are resident in Seychelles and do not pose a risk.

The risk of H5N1 arriving in Seychelles through migratory birds is very low for other reasons. The virulence of H5N1 causes death in birds, thus leaving few opportunities for long distance dispersal. Also, the contact between wild birds, poultry and humans has to be extremely close and, in Seychelles, wild birds rarely come into close contact with poultry or humans on a regular basis.

In addition, hygiene in Seychelles and biosecurity on our poultry farms are better than in many countries. Moreover, being sealocked, Seychelles does not have land borders with any country. This makes smuggling of birds or bird products very unlikely and in any case imports of live birds are not allowed.

Nevertheless, people should not handle vagrant birds, or visit bird farms and zoos overseas. Sooty Terns (or Golet) whose eggs are exploited in Seychelles are not seen as a risk because it is difficult to see how they can be infected with and carry the H5N1 virus.


Editorial, Nature Seychelles' Zwazo Magazine, July-December 2005.

Our History

Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

@CousinIsland Manager

Facebook: http://goo.gl/Q9lXM

Roche Caiman, Mahe

Contact Us

Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 4601100

Fax: + 248 4601102

Email: nature@seychelles.net