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South African ostrich industry and bio-diversity

22 February 2008

The South African Ostrich Business Chamber (SAOBC) was successful in obtaining a grant of 120 000 US Dollars from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the USA for a project to promote sustainability of the ostrich industry in a sensitive biodiversity region by developing farm-level best practice guidelines, and provide extension and advisory support to ostrich farmers.

This project will focus on the geographic area of the Klein- Karoo in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. “For the Ostrich industry it is a priority area for initiating a Biodiversity management project, as it is historically a highly intensive ostrich production area within the Klein Karoo”, said Anton Kruger, Chief Executive Officer of the SAOBC. “ The ostrich industry believes that a partnership approach is the correct way to deal with challenges and this is another example of such initiatives by the industry. We are grateful to have partners such as CapeNature, the Gouritz Initiative and Western Cape Department of Agriculture”, Kruger said.

As far back as 2002, the need was identified for a biodiversity conservation management project that would benefit both biodiversity and the ostrich industry.

The SAOBC is tasked with ensuring the ongoing sustainability and viability of the industry into the future and accepts its responsibility in ensuring adequate management of farm- level biodiversity. “The overall purpose of the project will be the implementation of improved land management practices, utilising veld in an improved and sustainable way and engaging in alternative production systems and income generating enterprises”, Kruger said.

The Klein Karoo area of SA has many socio-economic challenges, of which unemployment is a particular concern . Within this region, the ostrich industry plays a very important role, providing for at least 30% of total employment. The industry is a critical element of the local economy, and environmentally sustainable methods of farming need to be developed into the future.

“It also became clear that it is essential that this project is integrated with other initiatives and projects which are being planned and implemented by roleplayers within this geographic area. These linkages will build momentum in addressing biodiversity-related challenges, and assist in creating awareness and alternate economic spin-offs, “ said Susan Botha, Community Conservation Manager dealing with projects within CapeNature’s Gouritz Mega Park Business Unit.

Source: South African Ostrich Business Chamber

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