It began when ostrich feathers became a major European and British fashion accessory in the mid-1800s. Oudtshoorn farmers were quick to realise that the Karoo environment was ideal to raise ostriches and began ripping up their agricultural fields and domesticating wild birds. Breeding pairs of birds thrived and farmers pocketed up to R200 per kilogram for their feathers, an astonishing amount in 1884.
Although the demand for ostrich feathers has drastically decreased, their skins are now used to produce high-end fashion accessories. Ostrich meat has become a popular alternative to beef or lamb. As a result, Oudtshoorn continues as an active ostrich farming town, boasting the largest number of ostriches in the world.
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