Greg Pingo: “Pete, do you think that’s an ostrich over there?”
Pete: “No that’s a stump in the grass…”
Needless to say, the stump swivelled at the top end, also known as its head. It was a male ostrich lying down. This view was from about 800m away, so we ventured in closer to confirm.
Upon arrival at the scene, we were still unsure as to whether the male ostrich was merely having an afternoon rest, or whether there was a clutch of eggs underneath his plumage. The large circle of flattened grass, a clear entrance pathway to the area and his unwillingness to stand up all suggested that the ostrich was sitting on eggs.
Delight! We managed to spot the white edge of one egg popping out from under his left wing.
For those new to the Ostrich story of Londolozi, a single female surprised everyone in late 2013, appearing out of nowhere. Miraculously, she found a mate a whole three years later! The family grew, and another group of ostriches appeared on the scene, adding more excitement. In late winter 2019, 23 hatchlings were found wandering around with a group of adults. This was a heart-warming sight and a real miracle seeing as only three years earlier, the ostrich population consisted of one lone female. Unfortunately however, after a few weeks the numbers dwindled and the chicks were never seen again.
With a survival rate of 12-15% amongst the chicks, this is not surprising. Interestingly, more than one female will lay in one nest. The first female to lay is termed the major female and any others that lay thereafter are minor females. The major female is said to be able to recognise her own eggs and will push minor females’ eggs to the nest perimeter so as to favour incubation of her own. The major female and the territorial male will take turns incubating the eggs for a period of about five to eight weeks.
We have no idea how long ago the current eggs were laid, but will be sure to keep a close eye on the developments at the nest.
The first clutch in 2016 had six chicks, in 2019 it was 23. How many chicks will there be this year?