Ostrich culling almost complete

Planned culling of infected ostriches will soon be complete.

Young ostriches on an Oudtshoorn farm which escaped the bird flu cull. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Agriculture Department on Monday said it planned to complete the culling of ostriches affected by bird flu in the Karoo by the end of this week.

Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Reinsburg met with industry players in Oudtshoorn earlier.

More than 40,000 ostriches have been culled since the initial outbreak of avian influenza in March 2011.

The European Union also imposed a ban on South African ostrich exports at a cost of hundreds of millions of rand to affected farmers.

The EU imported 90 percent of South Africa's ostrich meat.

The department's Wouter Kriel said, "The Department of Agriculture will conclude the culling operation that has been ongoing for the past year in the ostrich industry. The last 360 ostriches will be culled this week."

The department said it would monitor the area carefully in the following weeks.

The department will in the next three months apply to the EU for the resumption of ostrich exports.

According to the department, the entire Klein Karoo Valley, home to about 70 percent of the country's ostrich industry, was affected by the outbreak.

The affected farmers received R50 million in compensation from the national government.