Max pointed me to an interesting-looking book called Dangerous Creatures of Africa by Chris and Mathilde Stuart, which he recommends. An excerpt:
Jackal hunter Peter Schneekluth was tracking black-backed jackal on a farm in the Karoo when he noticed a male ostrich moving towards him. It rapidly closed in on him, then leaped into the air and kicked out at him, knocking him to the ground and kicking at his back as he lay. Peter managed to grasp the bird in a 'neck-lock' while holding on to one of its wings. Both combatants whirled and then crashed to the ground. Noting that the ostrich was becoming limp, Peter slackened his grip, but the bird attacked more fiercely than ever and he was forced to strangle the ostrich. A heavy leather belt Peter was wearing was cut neatly in half --- probably what saved him from serious injury in the initial attack. He escaped with extensive bruising and minor cuts.

A territorial attack, perhaps?


  1. "A territorial attack, perhaps?"
    It could be, Gordon.
    Howewer, on the same page of the excerpt, the authors write: "It is especially the 'tame' birds that are dangerous because they have no natural fear of humans".
    We can say that ostriches and cassowaries are the modern and "soft" version of the prehistoric predators birds Datryma, Gastornis and Phorusrhacos.

  2. That makes sense, Max--we see with so many animals that habituation is the key to danger.

  3. Except that Diatryma and Gastornis (which are possibly the same thing) are no longer considered predatory. They did a study recently on the calcium isotopes of the bird's bones (they do this to find out what the creature was eating, but don´t ask me what the actual process is :B), and it turns out it was eating vegetable matter only. The huge beak was probably for dealing with hard seeds and fruit, like a colossal parrot.

    Not to say, of course, that they couldn´t kick/bite us to a pulp if they were still alive...

  4. I interviewed a biologist about that process a while back, when he published new findings on the Tsavo man-eaters. I'll see if I can work up the notes on that soon--it was really interesting.

  5. @Croconut
    "Except that Diatryma and Gastornis (which are possibly the same thing) are no longer considered predatory."
    I knew D. & G. were possibly the same animal, but I didn't know they weren't predators.

    1. I didn't know that either. I'm always learning new things here, thanks to you guys.


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