Bird-riding loses lustre in Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn — Clambering onto an ostrich for a ride used to be popular among tourists in Oudtshoorn known as the “ostrich capital of the world.”

Two men compete in an ostrich race at Highgate ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn. File picture: Shuji Kajiyama/AP

Not so much anymore.

Two major ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn have stopped offering ostrich rides to tourists, responding to concerns about the birds’ welfare. A third farm is sticking with the feature, saying it is regulated and that ostriches do not experience discomfort.

Douglas Bester, owner of Cango Ostrich Farm, said on Monday that rides used to be “something that really captured the imagination,” but are now viewed with distaste by many clients, particularly Europeans.

Bester says Cango stopped rides at the end of February.

Oudtshoorn lies in the arid Karoo region. Ostriches were first farmed there for their feathers in the 19th century.


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