At least 250 ostriches have died from heat exposure in temperatures of more than 50°C in Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, South Africa.
Dr Adriaan Olivier, head veterinarian and manager of R&D at the Klein Karoo International Farms, said 100 birds had died on one farm and other farms had suffered losses of between 30 and 70 birds, reports Beeld newspaper.
Anton Kruger, CEO of the SA Ostrich Chamber of Commerce, said it was usually birds of between 4 and 5 months old that were vulnerable to heat exposure. Ostriches of this age cost about R2300 per bird.
Olivier said the ostriches were not able to cool down as the temperature of the air was warmer than their body temperature of 38°C.
"The only way that these semi-desert birds can cool down is to gasp but this doesn't work when it is so hot and ostriches die of organ failure," said Olivier.
Kruger said the dead birds were not fit for anything but to grind up as dog food.
"Because of the heat, the meat started to rot immediately. The fat under the skin started to cook, which damaged the skin," he said.
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