The number of ostriches in Matheniko-Bokora game reserve in Karamoja sub-region in northeastern Uganda has grown twice over.
According to the game reserve in Moroto, the ostrich population is now over 50,000, making it the biggest of the species in the whole of Africa.
The game reserve attributes this rapid growth of ostrich population in Matheniko-Bokora to the continuous sensitization of the community against poaching and picking ostrich eggs for sale. While speaking to Uganda Radio Network (URN) News, Fred Kizza, a warden at the Matheniko-Bokora game reserve said he's glad to report that the ostrich population in Matheniko-Bokora game reserve has doubled to 50,000 as of now, making it the highest ostrich population in the whole of Africa,”
It is reported that bush burning at the game reserve by Karimojong poachers and picking of ostrich eggs for sale, were the primary causes, affecting population growth for ostriches in the area – something that, the Uganda Wildlife Authority has been fighting with the help of other stakeholders.
Additionally, communities have also been sensitized to learn that picking ostrich eggs or killing an ostrich is a big offense, punishable by law and carries a five year jail sentence. Such interventions, like these have since created a favorable environment for the ostriches to breed well.
According to local leaders that URN talked to, it’s the lack of food that forces the locals to go poaching these Ostriches, otherwise, due to the on-going sensitization, the locals are learning to love wild animals, including the Ostriches. “Hunger, going without food for most community members has been the biggest cause of Ostrich poaching; otherwise when people have food, there is no need to kill these creatures”. Elijah Lobucel, the LC III chairperson of Lokopo Sub County, Napak District, reports.
Ostriches can grow to 2.7 meters tall, and are found across Africa's hot savannahs and open woodland, like the Karamoja region in Uganda. The ostrich happens to be the world's largest bird, standing up to a massive 2.7 meters tall and weighing as much as 159 kilograms. This is around 1meter taller than the average human being, and the weight of two humans combined!
The National Geographic Kids, an online Magazine; describes the Ostrich, as a flightless bird, with a long bare neck, long sturdy legs and a bulky body covered with feathers. Both males and females have different colored feathers, with males having sport black plumage with a white tail and females mostly brown. They together have small heads, with a short - wide beak and big brown eyes protected by long dark lashes.
The ostrich might not be able to fly, but it’s such a fast runner! Using its long legs, powerful thighs and strong feet, this big bird can apparently cover five meters in a single pace and reach speeds of over 70km per hour! When running at such super speeds, it holds out its short wings to help it balance.
Besides carrying it where it wants to go, an Ostrich’s strong legs are super efficient when it comes to self-defense. If threatened by predators, such as lions and the like, an ostrich will kick with such a powerful force to kill! Each two-toed foot is armed with a ten centimeter sharp claw, too, to protect it from predators.
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