Oudtshoorn is the true capital of the Klein Karoo, and its influence extends throughout the region. Commercial ostrich farming started in Oudtshoorn over 140 years ago and the town is rightly considered the ostrich capital of the world since here are more ostrich farms and ostriches than anywhere else in the world.
South Africa controls the world market with regards to ostrich products like feathers, skins and meat since we have been farming with ostriches for much longer than anybody else. The ostrich industry in Oudtshoorn and South Africa is an export orientated industry with South Africa controlling about 70% of the word market.
During the early 1880’s the price of ostrich feathers rose steadily and money flowed into the little town. Suddenly instead of shortage there was abundance. There were certain parallels between Kimberley, Johannesburg and Oudtshoorn, for each of them found riches – Kimberley from diamonds in the 1870’s, Johannesburg from gold in the 1880’s, and Oudtshoorn from ostrich feathers.
Oudtshoorn grew as a town around the wealth created from ostrich farming and is today still considered the centre of the ostrich industry world-wide.