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SA wants ban on ostrich meat lifted

Agriculture officials are concentrating on re-registering farms.

A juvenile ostrich on an Oudtshoorn farm. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The South African Ostrich Business Chamber on Saturday expressed its relief that the recent outbreak of bird flu on a farm in Oudtshoorn was not deemed dangerous and would not be likely to spread.

Agriculture officials said they were now concentrating on re-registering farms so that the European Union ban (EU) on ostrich meat exports can be lifted.

The ban hit the industry hard, since the initial outbreak of bird flu two years ago.

Piet Kleyn, the head of the SA Ostrich Business Chamber, said while they are pleased the latest outbreak is not serious, they still have to get through the upcoming bird flu season.

"We must stress, once again, that the flu amongst ostriches is like flu in humans.

"We will get it from time to time.

"Ostriches roam outside and you can't farm inside the house with ostriches."

At the beginning of April, a new threat had emerged in the already struggling South African ostrich industry, namely poachers of feathers.

These feather poachers were sneaking onto farms under the cloak of darkness at night and plucking feathers from the birds.

The value of feathers at the time had increased, which was thought to be the abrupt surge of feather thieves.