The Ostrich in Kidepo Valley National Park-Uganda wildlife safaris
An Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a huge flightless bird inherent to Africa and one of the two extant species of ostriches, the only living members of the genus Struthio in the ratite order of birds. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a small head and wings, a long neck and legs with massive two large forward pointing toes with a body size of 1.8-2.75 m and weighs up to 155 kg. The male ostriches are black with white wings as well as tail feathers the female ones have brownish grey color with the legs always brighter with pink necks during breeding. They possess very large eyes measuring almost 5 cm across allowing them to spot predators like lions within a long distance.
Ostriches walk at an average of 4km/hour! However, in case of a warning sign of predators threatening it or its eggs the bird can sprint at a terrific speed of 55 km/h (34 mph) or even up to about 70 km/h (43 mph) -the fastest land speed of any bird. So, on your wildlife safari in Uganda to Kidepo Valley National Park make sure you don’t get it worried when you get close to its eggs or else be ready to sprint at a faster speed.
This is the world’s largest living bird and lays the largest eggs of all birds in Uganda only found in Kidepo Valley National Park one of the distant and rewarding Uganda wildlife safari destinations far northeastern part of the country.
Ostriches like dust bathing and at times you may find them burying their heads in the sand while the rest of the body is seen.
Ostriches are generally silent but during mating season, they display a range of roars, booms and hisses. The male bird is known for its booming call that can be heard over 1 km away. They are very strong birds and can harm it’s predators like lions and humans by just kicking and can even cause harm some times.
An ostrich lays up to 15 eggs a month, each laid after every two days especially during the dry months of the year, usually between February and June. The preparation of the laying ground is done by the male ostrich as it digs a hole of about 1 meter wide and 1 foot deep then later fills it with lake sand. This helps to generate warmth that would enable hatching when the eggs are laid.
Ostriches have a complex breeding system with the major and minor birds ably laying eggs in the same nest. Usually one major and 5-6 minors lay an average of 25 eggs in the same nest. With incubation, the major hen/female incubates during the day while the Cock/male takes its turn during the night. After this routine for about 6 weeks the chicks hatch and leave the nest after 4 days. They are fully mature at the age of three to four years.
Ostriches are omnivores and therefore feed on things like locusts, seeds, flowers, fruits and swallow sand and pebbles. However, they do not have teeth therefore swallow pebbles to grind their food. The bird can go without drinking water for several days surviving on metabolic water and moisture ingested in roots, seeds and insects.
What preys on the ostrich?
The Egyptian Vulture is the major predator to the Ostrich preying on its eggs. Each vulture can eat six or more eggs at a time. The vulture uses stones to break Ostrich eggs and because of this it is called “The tool-using Egyptian Vulture.” Lions are also predators to the ostriches.
Kidepo Valley National Park is known as one of the best wildernesses in Africa and a surprisingly distant Uganda safari destination where no one should miss. When you are planning to safari Uganda, don’t hesitate to visit this wilderness filled with unique wild species.