World's biggest bird on verge of extinction

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, May 5, 2011
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The Saharan race ostrich, largest representative of its species, has been extirpated across 95 per cent of its range. Within Niger, the bird is extinct in the wild.

Niger is no longer home to any wild Saharan race ostriches, although captive populations still exist []

Niger is no longer home to any wild Saharan race ostriches, although captive populations still exist [] 

There are still roughly 100 pure-bred Saharan race ostriches in small privately-held captive flocks scattered across the country. A land-locked country in Western Africa, the Republic of Niger is exceptionally poor, but with some modest assistance those caring for ostriches can substantially improve the chances of these birds breeding successfully and rearing young.

Given how productive ostrich can be, there is every reason to believe that with the right material and technical support, Niger can breed desert ostrich and return them to the wild in relatively short order.

Appeal for funding

The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) is part of a public-private partnership with the Republic of Niger and a consortium of private local breeders (CERNK) that was launched in an effort to breed some of these birds with an eye towards producing chicks for eventual reintroduction. Significant improvements to the ostrich breeding pens in Kellé, Niger, were completed last year.

The SCF is now focusing on improving the diet and promoting natural incubation until such time as Niger has the capacity to manage artificial incubation and chick-rearing operations. SCF, in partnership with the AZA Ratite TAG, has developed its Adopt-an-Ostrich Programme to support the acquisition, care and feeding of pure-bred Saharan ostrich in Niger; to help maintain the ostrich facilities; and to improve capacity for ostrich management.

‘With your help, we can get Saharan ostrich back on the road to recovery in Niger,' said an SCF spokesman. ‘This is a great opportunity for all of us to make a connection between our interest in the Sahara and the conservation of the largest bird on the planet.'


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