I was chased by a bird…..admittedly it was a big bird, but nevertheless, it was still a bird. Being chased by an Ostrich in Eswatini does not do much for your street credibility. Or for that matter, your bush credibility.
This particular bird in question was an ostrich. Ostriches are very curious creatures and will approach a variety of objects, whether they be animal, vegetable or mineral, to satisfy this curiosity. I am sure that they have a short memory span, their brain is smaller then their eye. So I imagine not much information can be stored there for future reference.
Guard dog, guard bird
The ostrich in question was in Mbuluzi Game Reserve in Eswatini, and it gets rather protective of its territory. Unfortunately, for everyone concerned, the territory is by the main gate. So getting out of your vehicle to open the gate becomes more of a challenge than initially anticipated. It is a bit like running the gauntlet.
As I approach the gate I often find myself wearyingly looking around for this elusive ostrich. If I had seen her earlier then I knew where she was, which makes things more manageable. However, if I had not seen her, life becomes a little bit more adventurous and unpredictable! There is the excitement of getting out of the car, opening the gate, getting back into the car and driving it through the gate. Then getting back out of the car, closing the gate behind you, whilst ensuring that all the right animals are on the correct side of the fence. This is relatively easy unless ‘Big Bird’ is in the vicinity.
Out smarting a bird
On this particular case she was in the vicinity. In fact it appeared as if she was guarding the gates as she was walking up and down the entrance area. Things could turn ugly. As I drove closer to the entrance gate, and to the ostrich, she eyeballed me showing her intent of not moving. I gingerly got out of the car, and waved my arms frantically at her to get her to move, which she obligingly did. However, she just moved around the car and what ensued was a comedy moment between woman and ostrich. Eventually she moved away a little bit so that I could open the gate and perform the car manoeuvre. This time it was done with frenetic speed.
Luckily she only made her move at the last possible moment, and although ostriches are pretty quick at running, I was faster. We were on a collision course, but I managed to get to the open gate first and fasten the gates tightly shut before impact. She stopped centimetres from the gates, wings outstretched and mouth agape. She was trying to intimidate me and had certainly achieved that goal.
Next time I am chased by an ostrich, it may get the better of me. But for now I was back in control, albeit a bit shaky.