The ostrich is the world’s largest bird. They are native to the African savannah and desert lands, where they roam between watering holes eating plants along the way. Though ostriches cannot fly, their powerful legs make them extremely fast sprinters. They are capable of reaching top speeds of 43 miles per hour, and can run over long distances at 31 miles per hour. It goes without saying, but an ostrich is not an animal that you want to get into a foot race with on your African safari vacation.
At Roho Ya Chui, we want you to have a great time on your safari, while also staying safe. Due to their size and awesome abilities, ostriches are very popular animals among tourists. Seeing the world’s largest bird in its natural habitat is a true bucket list item for many. It is important to remember that these are wild animals and special care should be taken if you happen to encounter one. Though humans are not a natural prey of these birds, they have been known to injure and even kill people. Here is how to handle an ostrich encounter.
- Hide and Please Don’t Seek
Ostriches can deliver devastating blows with their powerful legs, wings and beaks. The best way to avoid being harmed by an ostrich is to steer clear of them all together. Of course, even the most well intended tourists can get into sticky situations with wild animals. If you encounter an ostrich, immediately look to see if there is any brush, a building or vehicle that you can easily reach nearby. Keep your eye on the animal, but quickly seek refuge in this shelter and hide. If you do not think that you can make it to shelter, do not attempt to. Lay on the ground and play dead instead. An ostrich can easily outrun an adult human and will attack from behind with enormous force.
- Blend In or Climb High
Ostriches are birds that have a primary diet of plants. Humans are far from the top of their list of prey, but they will chase a person if they feel threatened. As mentioned, a person has little hope of outrunning an ostrich, so the best chance is to hide. If there is no brush available, look to see if there is any object that you can use to conceal yourself, such as a boulder or tree. If you do find a tree, try and climb it. Remember that ostriches are incapable of flight, so you will only need to go nine or ten feet to be safe. The ostrich will lose interest in the chase if they believe that you have left.
- Fight Off the Ostrich
In extreme circumstances, when there is no cover and you are clearly being attacked by the ostrich, you may have to fight. If there is a stick near, arm yourself. Stay to the sides and rear of the ostrich, they can only attack from the front. Make yourself as large as possible by waving your arms and a stick.
Plan Your African Safari Vacation
If you would like more information about planning your African safari vacation, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.
Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa