We have four supposedly wild ostriches on the estate – we treat them with respect and try to keep them at ‘arm’s length’ recognising that they are wild and enjoying the natural fynbos and renosterbos that forms the majority of the 550 hectares of the Galenia Estate. When they walk through the olive grove we enjoy the spectacle, they don’t eat the olives or the leaves, and in fact they help to keep down the undergrowth and occasionally even help with the fertilisation.
They also like to ‘promenade’ on the paddock area in front of the main stoep providing a photo opportunity for our guests, who are equally likely to meet up with them again whilst walking on the nature trails. We advise that the guests take a walking stick, in case they come across the ostriches, not to frighten them but to hold the stick above the head to make the human appear taller than the ostrich. As the average height of a male ostrich is between 2.0m and 2.5m – admittedly a lot of this is neck – the walking stick needs to be held high. It seems to do the trick. If they are not threatened they seem to be unconcerned by trekkers, although there are times when the males ostrich’s legs turn a bright pink – indicating the mating season – when he can be a little ‘frisky and unpredictable’, however his main interest appears to be the three ‘hens’ who he chases relentlessly at this time.
Of late the ostriches are getting even closer and have taken to helping us to ‘mow the lawn’ at the swimming pool – despite the fact that there are guests in the pool or sunbathing. This is probably due to their main source of food drying up and them knowing that there is tasty green irrigated grass in the pool area. Unfortunately their ‘mowing’ is a little too severe for our liking as they pull out the grass rather than bite it off, so we are having to find a way to dissuade them. Although we read, but have never seen, that ostriches can swim so one never knows we might even find them in the pool one day!