My friends have an ostrich farm in the middle of the desert. Jodie and I visited there on Saturday, surprised that the middle of the desert was much closer to our home than we had imagined. The El Hayaen Ostrich Farm is located near Ofakim, not far from the Gaza Strip. Once there were 22 such farms in Israel, exporting 20,000 ostriches a year to Western Europe. El Hayaen is the only farm still operating today.
Ostriches were once an indigenous species in Israel, but they disappeared from the desert landscapes in the 1920s. I had previously seen ostriches roaming in the Hai Bar Nature Preserve near Yotvata, and on a visit to Kibbutz Ha'on near Lake Kinneret many years ago.