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Remarks on a recent proposal to introduce ostriches into Tasmania

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Andrew, James (1890) Remarks on a recent proposal to introduce ostriches into Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. pp. 176-184. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

During last year a proposal was made to the Government
to introduce Ostriches into Tasmania, following the example
of what was done with some little success in the Continental
Colonies of Australia and in New Zealand at a time when
very large profits were made out of this industry in the Cape
Colony and other South African States. The offer, however,
was made subject to the financial safeguard of a Government
guarantee, and failed to secure favourable consideration.
From observations of the habits of wild ostriches, and from
some little experience of their management when domesticated,
having owned birds myself, I venture to offer a few remarks
on farming for feathers, and the possibility of such an
industry being successfully carried out in Tasmania.
An observer of ostriches in their native state would
imagine the task of bringing such birds under the subjection
of man to be almost an impossibility. No wild creature of
the plains is so difficult to approach, "none are so timid or so
fleet". The stratagems of natives or the well organised
arrangements of professional hunters are required to ensure
a successful chase. And yet their domestication has been
comparatively easy, and now that their habits are well
understood it is found that in confinement they can be bred
and reared, and maintained as adult birds, with no appreciable
loss of their natural characteristics.
Their chosen home is a waterless desert, with sparse and
stunted vegetation, affording no shelter from the burning sun;
their food small reptiles and animals, the young leaves and
twigs of
bushes, and the wiry grass and other small plants
whose existence under such surroundings is always a mystery
to travellers. The speed of the ostrich is a marvel of pace.
Each stride, as has been verified by careful measurements, is
from 22ft. to 28ft. One observer reports 30 strides of 12ft.
each in ten seconds, or 26 miles per hour, which agrees with
the estimate formed by Dr. Livingstone.
The male bird is an imposing creature, in height to the top
of the head often 9ft. and even sometimes 10ft., thus exceeding
any other existing species of aves.
A peculiarity of an ostrich feather is that the quill is
exactly in the centre of the webs instead of, as in the plumage
of all other birds, more on one side than the other. This is
accepted as the origin of their use as an emblem of justice
in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
It appears that the geographical distribution of the ostrich
was formerly much greater than at the present time, although
even now its range is more extended than is generally
supposed, including some parts of Asia, Arabia, and Northern
and Southern Africa.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 176-184
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2013 06:33
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:07
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