This is basically the most exciting news ever!
In 40 years at Londolozi, head tracker Richard Siwela has never seen the like. Nor has Sandros Sihlangu, senior ranger. Dave Varty, Jerry Hambana, Judas Ngomane…. ask all the elders at Londolozi if they have ever seen an ostrich nesting on Londolozi soil before, and the answer is the same. A firm and unequivocal “No”.
But the unthinkable has occurred. The fantasy scenario that all rangers and trackers, as well as countless guests from across the world, have imagined over the last three years, has become reality, and the female Ostrich has a clutch of eggs.
I’m sure many followers of Londolozi’s social media offerings will be familiar with the character of the female ostrich, but let’s take this opportunity to briefly journey back in order to fully appreciate just what an amazing story this is…
In late 2013 a female Ostrich arrived in the Open Areas of Londolozi. Going with the odds, we all assumed she’d either head back to where she came from (we presume the Kruger Park), or get eaten. We were all proved wrong thankfully, and she took up residence, becoming a familiar sight down in the grasslands.
Fast forward to mid-2016 and her behaviour had become, to put it mildly, unique for a female ostrich in the wild. Although we hesitate to ascribe human emotions to animals, it seemed clear that the female was lonely, and that in the absence of any type of natural ostrich companionship whatsoever, she was seeking out Land Rovers to associate with, often approaching the game drive vehicles from out of the bushes when they were least expecting it.
Then suddenly one day, two males arrived out of the blue, much like the female had done all those moons ago. Within 48 hours the ostriches – both males and the female – had been seen together, but although mating displays were witnessed as well as one or two copulations, no-one seriously believed that anything would come of it.
Once again, and to our complete delight, we were proved wrong.
The following video reveals what ranger Melvin Sambo and tracker Milton Khoza discovered only a short while ago:
We have no way of knowing exactly when the eggs were laid, but suspect it may have been up to a month ago. Given that ostrich eggs take over a month to hatch, it is likely that the great day is approaching, and we may have the incredible privilege of witnessing the first clutch of ostrich chicks to hatch on Londolozi soil.
The first egg count when Melvin and Milton discovered the nest was 12, but it seems that some have been lost to unknown causes, as a few days ago (when the video was filmed) the count seemed to be 8.
Whatever the number, we are of course incredibly hopeful that at least a few chicks can hatch.
What will happen then remains to be seen. Could we witness little chicks being raised to independence in such a dangerous environment? Ostrich parents can be viciously protective of their eggs and subsequent brood, so we are holding thumbs that they can keep the nest and any chicks that hatch safe…