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The Majestic Ostrich Of Kidepo National Park

THE MAJESTIC OSTRICH OF KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK

Welcome to Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda’s most spectacular and isolated park. Measuring 1,442 sqkms, the park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s border with South Sudan and Kenya, about 700km from Kampala.

Kidepo National Park gets its name from the seasonal Kidepo River.  Kidepo means to pick something from down. The Borassus palm lined Kidepo valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for making beer, thus the name.

Kidepo is the only park in Uganda where the biggest and fastest birds in the world -ostriches, are found.  Ostriches can also be found in Pian Upe game reserve in Karamoja sub-region.

Things to Know About Ostriches

An ostrich is a flightless bird with three stomachs thus it secretes urine separately from faeces.

Ostriches are the fastest runners of any birds and can sprint at more than 70km per hour covering up to 5m in a single stride. This speed is achieved because ostriches have only two toes.

Ostriches’ wings reach a span of about 2 meters and are used in mating displays, to shade chicks, to cover the naked skin of the upper legs and as flanks to conserve heat. The wings also help them change direction while running.

Male ostriches can kill one another while fighting over females by slamming their heads onto one another. Ostriches are good dancers and perform complex mating ritual dances to attract mates. All ostrich females (hens) in a herd lay their eggs in the dominant hen’s nest though the dominant hen gives her own a prominent centre place. Ostrich eggs are the largest of any bird.

Each egg can weigh as much as 24 chicken eggs. The eggs are incubated by the dominant female by day and by the male by night, using the coloration of the two sexes to escape detection of the nest. The color of the female, which is brown, blends in with the sand, while the black male is nearly undetectable in the dark. The eggs hatch after 35 to 45 days. The father of the chicks teaches them how to eat.

When ostriches sense danger, they do not bury their heads in the sand but press their long necks to the ground in an attempt to become less visible. Ostriches have no teeth but swallow pebbles to grind their food and can go without drinking water for several days. Ostriches have the largest eye of any land animal. The eyes measure almost 5 cm across.

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