“Going on safari,” a colloquial that often depicts large, sparsely populated plains where National Geographic photographers seem to run about. And, yes, while these spaces are home to some of the world’s largest mammalian fauna, it’s also home to a large—well, the planet’s largest—bird species, flightless or otherwise—the ostrich. A forward-kick capable of disemboweling a lioness, ostriches aren’t for the faint of heart. And, not only are they the largest bird running around, flightless, on the African plains—they’re also the largest game bird in existence.
Largest Egg, Largest Bird
A single ostrich begins life in a shared nest, consisting of up to sixty egg encased brothers and sisters—and even cousins; the eggs are the largest laid of any land animal. These communal nests are a brood of eggs from both the guarding male his harem of female ostriches. While both parents take responsibility for safe-keeping the calcium-encased young, it’s the father who takes the predatory heavy night shift. Why, one might ask? Well, it has to do, in most part, to the male’s superior size and black feathering that offers a bit of camouflage against an otherwise backdrop void of color; females are often adorned with brown, somewhat gray colored dorsal feathers. And, should the parent’s protection be without falter, within forty-days, a small herd of young ostriches will begin to populate the already expansive herd. Once hatched, the elementally fragile birds will gravitate toward the adults of the herd, taking shelter within the adult’s plumage, quite literally shading them from the harsh sun. As they age, their very own plumage becomes fuller, thicker than their once predominately down coats. Fast-forward to four-years-later, the now sexually mature birds are ready to rear families of their own.
A Taste of the Serengeti in the States
While exotic in nature, legally—and responsibly—hunting these birds may just be a road trip away. The ranching of ostriches is common in various southern states where the environments mirror that of the animal’s native Africa. For example, Texas is home to Texas Lodge Hunts where cultivated herds of these flightless birds can be hunted year-round; Texas has no seasonal restriction on ostrich hunting. With your two-thousand-dollar investment, you’ll have access to the lodge’s game-grounds that house these taxidermy trophies, one-on-one guided hunting with a knowledgeable staff member, and, should your aim be accurate, transportation to your choice of meat processor or taxidermist. And access to a fully stocked bar isn’t a bad quirk too. Keep your pass port at home; fill-up your F150’s tank instead.
“You brought down an ostrich today? We had no idea you and your family were taking a trip to Africa to go on safari,” exclaimed the impressed relative. “We didn’t—we just got on Highway-10 toward Kerrville, Texas.”