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Friday, August 26, 2022

Ostrich Policy - Emu bubble burst a decade ago !!

The promise was irresistible— big  advertisements in television channels and newspapers  offering freebies, tempting with ‘rag to riches’ stories.  Gullible  people started investing without knowing ‘what Emu was’ and the ‘nuances of Emu farming’.  They got carried by empty prattles of some Firms offering the chicks and buying the same back at a higher price after a few months !!  - they believed that emus would grow big, inturn making them richer, which was not to happen……….got carried by the offer of Emu Farms,  demanding  Rs 1.5 lakh as deposits and the promised return of  Rs 6,000 per month for three years and – as a freebie,  a gold coin.     In a short time, farmers in Rasipuram waited in long queues to deposit their savings and 100s of Emu farms sprung up in Salem and Erode.    The formula to success was simple – start Emu farm in around an acre, purchase up to 50 nos 3 month old chicks, provide good organic feed, drinking water  - in a few months, you will have well grown birds, breed to more and you have more money out of them…… dreams – chase dreams..

In a few years time, they realised it hard – it was only a bubble waiting to burst.  A decade ago -  a case was filed against  Tamil actors Sarathkumar and Sathyaraj, both brand ambassadors of Susi Emu Farms in Perundurai which had defaulted in settling the dues of depositors.  Immediately thereafter, a high Police Official went on media stating  - No case was registered against actors stating that though the  complainant mentioned about the advertisement films featuring the actors, the case was registered against 8 persons only, including  owner of the firm.  The high official queried - “If an actor acts in a cigarette company advertisement, how can a smoker complain that his health was affected due to the actor as he started smoking after seeing the film?” an act of a flightless bird vanishing in thin air !

Struthionidae is a family of flightless birds, containing the extant ostriches and their extinct relatives. The two extant species of ostrich are the common ostrich and Somali ostrich, both in the genus Struthio, which also contains several species known from Holocene fossils such as the Asian ostrich.  Sure most of us  would not recognize ‘genus Dromaius’ - the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus – the Emu.  It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the Ostrich.  .. ..and have you heard of ‘Ostrich Policy’ !

Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body. Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown. Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 pounds (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation and an ostrich's eyes are 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot.   

Ostriches are omnivores,   they eat both vegetation and meat. Although they prefer plants — especially roots, seeds and leaves — they also eat locusts, lizards, snakes and rodents.  They also eat sand and pebbles, to help grind up their food inside their gizzard, which is a small pouch where food is crushed and ripped up before it reaches the stomach.  Ostriches don't need to drink water; they get all the water they need from the plants they eat. However, they do drink if they come across a watering hole. Male ostriches are called cocks or roosters, and females are called hens. A group of ostriches is called a flock. Flocks can consist of up to 100 birds. 

A man dressed as an eight foot tall ostrich with a towering bird neck strapped to his head was successfully pinned down with a fishing net after running amok in a Thailand zoo this week. The staff member was taking part in a training drill designed to ensure the animal was unable to escape its enclosure, should the real-world situation ever arise.

Although the ostrich is a flightless bird, it is a risk that the popular northern Thailand zoo – home to about 400 animal species – isn’t willing to take. The Chiang Mai Zoo director, revealed the “wild animal management plan” which simulated various emergency situations including an ostrich falling out of its nest. The animal care worker dressed as the native African bird “fell out” of its animal show area, prompting colleagues to pursue the man on foot, a series of photos uploaded by the zoo revealed. Eventually, the man was seen captured and escorted by three fellow staff members, including one man holding a giant fishing net. The zoo said the training provided preparation for “managing a real situation” and included measures to control animal emergencies and guidelines to follow in such situations.

The ostrich is the world’s largest bird,  and a frightened ostrich can run at up to 45mph (70km/h) and can deliver powerful kicks capable of killing lions and other large predators. It is unclear whether the zoo’s resident giant pandas, hippopotamus or penguin colony will be the subject of similar training drills.

"Ostrich policy" is a metaphoric expression referring to the tendency to ignore obvious matters and pretend they do not exist;  the expression derives from the supposed habit of ostriches to stick their head in the sand rather than face danger. But .. .. Ostriches do not actually bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Aug 2022. 

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