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Poachers target ostriches

Poachers are ripping off ostrich feathers in South Africa.

OstrichEnlarge
Ostriches wearing plastic guards over their beaks to prevent pecking and damaging their valuable skin, are seen at a farm in southern Israel in 2005. The farm, where some 10,000 birds are bred annually and slaughtered at the age of one year for their skin, feathers and meat, is the only one of its kind in Israel that exports almost all of its production to Europe, and is threatened with the loss of its international markets if the H5N1 Avian Flu virus strikes Israel. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

A new animal is being poached--ostriches. This seems to be a bigger problem not for the ostriches but for the farmers working in the ostrich industry.

The Independent Online reports  that the industry has already suffered  from a ban that the South African government placed on ostrich meat exports in 2011 after a bird flu outbreak. Fifty percent of ostrich farmers have since left the industry.

Piet Kleyn, head of the SA Ostrich Business Chamber, says that poachers are sneaking into farms to take ostrich feathers--and thus stealing business from the ostrich farmers.

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"They pluck the birds at night. Some get injured and some are killed. They pluck them in a bad way so the birds get messed up badly," he told the Independent. 

As Bloomberg News reported last year,  thousands of South African farmers faced ruin after a strain of bird flu was detected on ostriches in 43 different farms. Ostrich feathers were previously a valuable commodity. Prior to the ban on exported ostrich meat, South Africa slaughtered between 250,000 and 300,000 of the birds a year.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/130409/poachers-target-ostriches