The North African ostrich (Struthio c. camelus) is one of four extant sub-species of ostrich. It alone inhabits the harsh environment of the Sahara and bordering Sahel. A century ago this race of ostrich inhabited the entire periphery of the Sahara both north and south, a total of 18 countries; today its range has been reduced to just six. The North African ostrich is critically endangered and without urgent conservation action may soon follow its cousin the Arabian ostrich into extinction.
In November 2008, Sahara Conservation began working with a local Nigerien wildlife organization – CERNK – to provide technical support and an improved ration to the ostriches they hold. During the two previous years these ostriches failed to produce any viable offspring. However, after an adjustment and recuperation period three female ostriches produced 49 eggs in 6 weeks. Sahara Conservation has also assisted other local owners, including Niger’s National Zoo with their ostrich breeding.
Sahara Conservation, The Saint Louis Zoo, the AZA Struthioniformes Taxon Advisory Group and CERNK decided to partner on a groundbreaking effort to save the endangered North African ostrich and aid its recovery in Niger.