I see you James Souchon…. And I raise you 20!
That is correct. Our ostrich family is now up to 23 chicks. My excitement went through the roof when Tracker Ray Mabelane and I saw 4 adult ostriches and the glimpse of a chick. At first we both assumed it was one of the three chicks from the nest discovered on Londolozi a month ago. However, as we got closer it became clear that there were way more than three.
Quite frankly it has to be one of the most amazing and – dare I say it – cutest things I’ve seen.
The chicks were fairly skittish around the vehicle and weaving their way through their mothers’ and fathers’ legs, perfectly camouflaged in the foliage of the dry grasses. It took us numerous counts to try get the accurate number but finally everyone on the vehicle agreed on a total of 23 chicks.
They have been seen since, still numbering 23. They can be described to be roughly the size of a chicken – yet next to the adults they were absolutely miniature. It is incredible to think that they will grow to almost full size within period of a year.
We know that there are two mothers between the 23 chicks. Records of 43 eggs in one nest have been seen in parts of South Africa and in the discovery of the previous three chicks, James Tyrrell talked about the hope that the fourth egg would hatch too, as there is sometimes a lag of a couple of days between the first and last eggs hatching.
Now, I can only assume the following: since viewing them several times I have noticed a split every now and again into a group of four (so maybe the other egg did hatch) and nineteen when slightly separated in the different parent pairs. This could mean that one mother is host to nineteen chicks and the other, four, making up the 23.
Studies in Kenya have predicted that survival rate of chicks is between 9%-12% of the hatchlings. However, they are extremely delicate and susceptible to sudden changes in temperature, wet and cold. Let’s hope that the four adults can do a good job in protecting their young.
Recently, after being asked this interesting question by a guest, I discovered that ostriches can live anywhere up to 45 years. Does this mean 40 years of an ostrich family on Londolozi? That thought excites me, what about you?