January 2022

A Surprise Visitor

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A Surprise Visitor

The bush telegraph exploded when the news of an ostrich on the property was announced! It was almost unbelievable and everyone on the property rushed to respectfully have a peak at this extraordinary bird.

In the early days of transforming the area into the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve captive-bred ostriches were introduced because they historically occurred here. The Sparrow family that were the pioneers of this area in the late 1900s could recall collecting ostrich eggs on the property. Unfortunately the introduction of 40 captive-bred ostrich was not a success because they either killed themselves running into the boundary fence or they were eaten by lions.

Historically the fence around the property was all one height, but that has been dropped on our southern border with Gonarezhou to only 1.2 metres to allow the movement of large animals between Gonarezhou and Malilangwe. Ostriches can easily clear jumping this low section of fence and it is possible that our visitor came from the south. Ostriches do occur in Gonarezhou National Park, but their population was severely affected by the 1992 drought.

This brave and adventurous bird is such a welcome visitor, and we hope she is predator-savvy and stays on the property. Head Guide, Brad Fouché, told me that apparently, from time to time in the past, a single ostrich has come on and off the property, but since 1999 this is only the second one he has seen.

A very similar occurrence took place at Singita Sabi Sand about a decade ago. A single female ostrich showed up and wandered the open grasslands of the southern area. She soon became a highlight on game drives mainly due to her trying to flirt with the vehicles, not realising that there were no male ostriches in the back seats! But then a tall dark stranger arrived and it did not take long before a clutch of eggs was found in an open clearing. The chicks hatched and within a few months they were known as the ‘Ostrich Family’ when sighted.

They have raised successful clutches of chicks in subsequent years. Let’s hope this history repeats itself for Singita Pamushana guests to see the world’s largest flightless bird on the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

Almost as surprised as we were by this visitor were the resident wildlife. The impalas stared in disbelief, as did the zebras and wildebeest. It has been rather funny watching their reactions and see them wondering who on earth this is!

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide