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Access restricted to 40 year old UNESCO classified World Heritage Site in Senegal.

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The Senegalese authorities had to restrict public access to a major bird park after the mysterious death of about 750 pelicans or more. Authorities have ruled out the possibility of bird flu after thorough investigations.

A patrol in the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary found “740 juvenile and 10 adult” pelicans dead on January 23, according to the environment ministry.

Created in 1971, with an area of 16,000 hectares, the Djoudj National Bird Park (PNOD) has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1981. It is one of the major green tourism attractions in Senegal.

Located on the southeast bank of the Senegal River, northern Biffeche, north east of St-Louis in the Sahel, the park is made up of a succession of wetlands, savannah and numerous canals, lakes, basins and swamps. The park has nearly three million birds from almost 400 species.

According to a source, water samples were taken and sent for analysis in the national laboratory and the ministry ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of the deaths of the pelicans.

The same source said the carcasses and waste were destroyed and public access to the park as well as canoe rides along the marigot in the park were suspended.

The authorities have already ruled out the possibility of avian flu on the basis of the nature of a pelicans diet. According to the National Parks Director, Avian flu only affects birds that eat grains and pelicans eat fish. There was a recent outbreak of bird flu in a poultry farm in the west of the country which has been contained.

He went on to say that authorities have to wait for the results of the analysis that will be available in four days time.

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