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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Volstruis

Common Ostrich


Photo © Steven Herbert

Struthio camelus

The Ostrich is found over a large portion of South Africa. It may be seen on farms and nature reserves.

Although some male Ostriches may weigh up to 150 kg they average around 115 kg. Females average 100 kg.

From toe to head a male Ostrich may measure up to 2.8 metres. Females are smaller and measure up to 2 metres.

Males are handsome in their black and white plumage. Females are more drab - they are greyish-brown with some white.

An Ostrich may live for 40 years!

Female Ostriches lay their eggs in a communal nest. The eggs are the size of 20 chicken eggs. Both male and female tend to the eggs and chicks.

Many different mammals hunt Ostriches. These include Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Wild Dog and Spotted Hyena. Their eggs and young fall prey to a whole lot of other predators including jackals and Egyptian Vultures.

Ostriches have three methods of protecting their nests and chicks. Firstly they sit still on the nest and hope that they are not detected. Secondly they may run off feigning injury in an effort to try and distract the predator. Lastly they will defend them aggressively using their long legs to kick.

Common Ostrich

Photo © Steven Herbert

Magnificent male Ostrich at Tala Game Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Handsome male Ostrich at Tala Game Reserve

Below - An Ostrich making good use of its long neck to see what's going on.


Photo © Steven Herbert


References and further reading

List of South African Birds

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 200

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 52

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 1

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 152

First Field Guide to Animal Tracks of Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Year Published: 2003 - Page: 15

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 119

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 408

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 1

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 1

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 134

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 280

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 20

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