The North African Ostrich or Red-necked Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus) has returned to breed in the Aousserd region, Western Sahara, southern Morocco after it went extinct there some 50 years before. This is thanks to a successful reintroduction programme launched in 2008 by the Moroccan Forestry Administration (HCEFLCD) and its local partners like the Association ‘Nature Initiative’ and others (elected bodies of Aousserd province and Bir Guendouz commune).
The Red-necked Ostrich along with two other Sahelo-Saharan flagship species, namely the addax (Addax nasomaculatus) and the dama gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr), were reintroduced to the Safia reserve, located in the rural commune of Bir Guendouz. All these species are now almost fully acclimatized and breed in the wild (semi-captivity) in good conditions.
The Acclimatization Reserve of Safia, with an area of 900ha, was created in 2008 by the the HCEFLCD in order to reintroduce these Sahelo-Saharan species to their former habitat. The reserve is co-managed jointly by the HCEFLCD and the Association ‘Nature Initiative’. The stock of the Red-necked Ostrich comes from the Souss Massa National Park and Rmila reserve (Marrakech).
It should be noted also that in 2008, some 20 North African Ostrich chicks were also reintroduced to the national parks of southern Tunisia from the Souss Massa National Park. Wowever, there is no information about the success of the project.
Regarding the reintroduction project in Tunisia, some birds were released into the Dghoumes National Park in 2014. And two other groups were translocated to an acclimatisation enclosure in Sidi Toui National Park and to Orbata Faunal Reserve respectively. For more details, please see the links to the website of Marwell Wildlife in the comments section below.
When I first wrote this blog-post, the word ‘launched’ was written as ‘lunched’, which was funny mistake because the ostriches can be lunched (eaten at lunch!) as well. Laurie, a blog follower, commented in June 2013: “’lunched’ – I like it”. At the time, I didn’t notice the mistake so I didn’t understand his comment and didn’t reply. I only noticed the mistake when I wrote about the Namaqua Doves seen at Safia reserve during the release operation of Dama gazelle.