Skip to content

Struthio camelus syriacus

warning Regionally Extinct

The Arabian Ostrich (Middle Eastern subspecies Struthio camelus syriacus) is classified as globally Extinct in the Wild (EW). Extinction in Israel occurred in the early 20th century and since then no nesting attempts have been observed. In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Extinct in the Wild (EW).
RE Current Regional Assessment | EX Previous Regional Assessment | World Assessment

Habitats Shrubland, Desert Plains, Acaicia Savanna
Presence In Israel Resident
Nesting In Israel Past Breeder
Migration Types Nomad
Zoography Zones Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, Sudano-Zambezian
Landscape Formations Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis
Vegetation Formations Steppe, Herbaceous
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Ground
Diet Types Omnivore
Foraging Grounds Ground
Body Sizes Large (over 1000g)
Threat Factors Nest Harvesting, Direct Persecution

The Arabian Ostrich is the largest living bird on earth today. Its body length is about two meters and it weighs about 150 kg. It has small wings relative to its body size, and does not fly, but uses its wings to make sharp stops and turns when running. It is an omnivore feeding on grass, seeds, insects and small vertebrates. Its current distribution area is restricted to Africa.

Until the early 20th century, the Arabian Ostrich was found in the Negev, although its exact population size is unknown. It apparently occupied steppe and grassy areas in the Northern Negev, the Jordan Valley, the Judean Lowlands and the Coastal Plain. The last individuals were hunted during the 1920s and the last record was of an individual captured and sold alive in the Be’er Sheva area in 1929 (Hardy 1946). An ancient nest, 5,000 years old was found in Tel Mikhal near Herzliya, evidence of the existence of the species in central Israel in the distant past (Paz 1986, Shirihai 1996).

The Arabian Ostrich inhabited open landscapes in steppe and desert areas.

Arabian Ostriches of the subspecies Struthio camelus camelus were brought to the Yotvata Hai Bar in 1973 to establish a breeding nucleus. The ostriches reproduced successfully but the reintroduction efforts failed and the birds did not survive for long in nature.

The Arabian Ostrich of the subspecies S. c. syriacus became extinct by the 1940s (Cramp & Simons 1977). In Israel, it became extinct earlier during the 1920s. The reasons for extinction were hunting and collecting; some of the birds were sold in markets and kept as farm animals.

  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Cramp, S and Simmons, R.G. 1977. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1. Oxford University Press
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

Other Species

Hieraaetus fasciatus
Gypaetus barbatus
Torgos tracheliotus
Aquila clanga