An unlikely friendship

Sabi Sand | June 2016

For a few years a female ostrich has been spotted in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, but unfortunately she is alone. Historically they occurred in the area but due to the high numbers of predators such as lions and leopards, life hasn’t been too generous towards this gigantic flightless bird. With no possible mating partners or the simple company of another ostrich, this bird has found comfort in the vehicles and the humans that occupy them. As a result it happens quite often that you stop for a sun-downer and soon this prehistoric looking bird joins you. She means no harm and often displays as if the vehicle was a potential mate, lying down in front of the vehicle facing away while preening her feathers in the hope of being attractive enough that the vehicle might become interested! As we all know, vehicles don’t really find birds of this kind attractive. So with the beautiful show of feathers and a really close encounter for good photographic opportunities, we would move on after a while, but often with an ostrich in tow.

I feel terrible about driving away from her without giving any sort of acknowledgement that she is beautiful, but unfortunately I cannot help her – a sad moment indeed. Sometimes she tends to follow the vehicles in the hope that they would stop in acknowledgement of her efforts. Guides have driven off and unknowingly led her into lion sightings, but she is a wise old bird and makes a quick escape, realising life over love.

We are privileged to be able to get to know some of the resident animals around us but it is not every day that you get to know a wild ostrich.