A series of bird flu outbreaks has placed South Africa’s renowned ostrich farming industry under pressure – and it’s frontline farm labourers who are most at risk.
For more than 150 years, South Africa has enjoyed a world leading position as a producer of ostrich eggs, feathers, leather, oil and meat of the highest quality.
At its peak in 2009, South Africa accounted for 75 per cent of global ostrich products. Today, the business is worth over 1.2 billion rand (US$73 million) and employs as many as 50,000 people.
But a nightmare scenario could be brewing for the mainly low-skilled farm labourers who toil to rear, slaughter and refine ostrich by-products for export.