Saturday, 3 October 2015

The story of the Barbary Ostrich

Safari Ostrich Show Farm
The story of the Barbary ostrich

Steam boat – 1911

In 1911 a party led by Russel W Thornton, for the South African government, set out on an expedition to find the Barbary ostrich what was found in middle and West Africa regions.  Their goal was to catch breeding pairs of Barbary ostriches and bring them back to South African ostrich farmers in the Oudtshoorn area.  Oudtshoorn area was first farmers to domesticate ostriches in 1863.  Thornton and his party were to find the feather caravans and the right type of feathers. It was a long and difficult rout with train, steam boat and camel caravans inland in Northern Africa.  They found what they were looking for and the sellers were Arabs from Timbuktu.  The ostrich lived in French territory and hundreds of miles away from any inhabited land.
Plugged Barbary Ostriches transported in 1911
Thornton received permission from the South African government to proceed in bringing the Barbary ostrich back to South Africa. The team have to wait months for the approval from the government and were allowed to spend seven thousand pounds to buy 150 Barbary ostriches. The French however banned export of live birds from their territory.
The explorers proceeded into the prohibited lands, pursued by French spies. The explorers divided into 3 groups and buy bales of worthless feathers to put the French spies of their scent.  The Thornton party bought 156 Barbary ostriches and porters had to carry the birds for thousands of miles to Lagos. From Lagos they had to travel another three thousand miles to Cape Town.  Arriving in Cape Town 140 ostriches survived.

Loading ostrich in Lagos

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