|Setswana name: Mmantshe
Scientific name: Struthio camelus
Size: About 2m
Ostrich are the largest living birds and are flightless. They are very common in Botswana and can be identified by their large, fluffy feathers which are black in colour with white seen on the underlying feathers. Its neck and legs are white. Males can easily be identified by their dark black feathers with white wing tips, females are a dull to ashy grey colour.
Behaviour and Habitant
Ostrich socialize in groups called parties, but in the mating season Ostrich pair up or form groups of 3 (one male, two females). An ostrich nest is a wide and hollow scratched by adult Ostrich and will hold up to ten or twenty large eggs which are laid.
Usually a pair of ostriches will start a nest with several eggs from one female afterwhich other females are alloed to lay their eggs in the nest as well. The nest is then looked after by the first pair of birds that lay their eggs in there. Males will usually sit on the nest at night and females during the day. Some belive that it is so they blend in females blend in with the grey soils and males blend in with the dark of the night.
During the breeding season, Ostrich will defend their nests and kick out any intruder.
These birds feed on succulent plans, berries and seeds; to crush their food, they will swallow pebbles which assist in further crushing the food taken in.
Ostrich, although do not fly can run very fast at speeds which can measure more than 40 km/hour. When running, they fan out their wings.
Ostrich can be found all over Botswana in all habitats of arid areas.
During the colonial era ostrich populations went on a dramatic decline due to their sought aftrer feathers that were used decorate ladies hats as well as military regalia. Their skins was also a sought after material. Ostriches are no longer in the danger of being extinct but they are being farmed on large scales for their feathers, skins and meat which is low in calories and is a good substitute for beef.
Ostriches can defend themselves and their young very well and can disembowel a human with theior powerful front kick.
To the untrained ear the call of an ostrich especially that of a male can easily be mistaken for a male lion calling.