A couple of months ago rangers Greg Pingo and Pete Thorpe made the wonderful discovery of an ostrich nest in the grasslands.
It was a find completely by chance, as they were scanning for cheetah with their binoculars at the time when Greg happened to notice what looked like an ostrich’s neck sticking up out of the grass.
Moving in to investigate the pair found a male ostrich nursing a clutch of eggs. They couldn’t tell how many were there as the male stayed put.
Over the next few weeks we would check in on the nest from time to time. Interestingly we only ever saw the male brooding on the clutch; I say unusual as it’s the female that usually sits on the nest during the day and the male at night.
Less than a month ago Greg Pingo visited the nest site and found nothing but broken egg shells. We didn’t know if the chicks had hatched or if the nest had been raided by hyenas.
Then finally a couple of days ago, reports came in that the ostriches had been seen with chicks way down in the south of Londolozi – an area we haven’t been visiting recently owing to so much wildlife activity in the north and central sectors.
But in the last 24 hours we have managed to find the pair and their chicks on two separate occasions.
There are 18 chicks in total; a wonderful sight in an area not renowned for its population of these birds. Things have changed in the last few years though since the drought of 2015/16, and apart from this male and female pair there is another group of three females and a male that we regularly encounter.
Add the 18 chicks to the mix and there are currently 24 ostriches roaming the Londolozi grasslands.
In a predator-rich environment it is unlikely that all the chicks will survive to adulthood (a combined clutch of 23 completely disappeared last year), but one can always hope…
The chicks are only a couple of weeks old, but by four to five months they will be almost half the size of the adults. Their rapid growth is in their favour, as the quicker they get bigger, the less vulnerable they become.
Let’s hope that in early 2021 we can still report over ten chicks trotting along behind their parents.
I think 2020 is overdue to deliver some goodness…