A businessman who keeps a pride of ostriches in the New Territories wants to set up a nature reserve where visitors can swim with the world's largest birds. Tom Choi Wah-tong plans to convert a privately owned, 18,580-square-metre plot of land in Yuen Long into a nature reserve for the native South African birds next month. 'Birds should not be caged and ostriches need space to run. In my vision, there will be a sandbox to play in, and the birds' favourite foods will be grown in patches in the reserve, allowing them to rotate their feeding area. It will be connected to a river, where visitors can go for a dip with the birds,' he said. 'They are really good swimmers. I used to take them for a walk through the village before going for a swim together. I would hold onto them using a harness and leash I made, while they waded in the river. I want to share this joy with others.' According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, ostriches are not endangered and do not fall under the category of household poultry. As a result, Mr Choi is free to do whatever he wants with his two adolescent birds and seven chicks. Mr Choi, the village chief of Luen On Sun Tsuen, decided to establish a sanctuary several months ago after a band of stray dogs got into a fenced lot, fatally mauling two of his ostriches and seriously injuring a third. 'There was blood everywhere. The dogs managed to sneak under the fence. After I found out, I searched the village, hunting for the dogs responsible. I don't think they will ever do it again. But at the same time, I know it is in the dogs' nature to attack. Hopefully this reserve will provide my ostriches with a safe home.' Standing at 1.87 metres and weighing 50kg, the two adolescent birds look somewhat intimidating. With claws on two wing fingers, strong legs and a powerful beak, ostriches can run at speeds of 65km/h. However, Mr Choi insists his pets will not become a threat, even if all nine reach their full potential of 2.7 metres and 155kg. 'Their beaks are dull and they don't have teeth. Once I got pecked on the ear, but it didn't really hurt. It just felt like someone twisting my ear after I had been bad. 'And all this talk about bird flu, I am not worried at all. All the birds I kept in the past have always been very healthy. Hong Kong doesn't have to worry about my ostriches.' The businessman's $10,000-a-month hobby began two years ago when a mainland friend presented him with four ostriches as a gift. Following the incident with the dog, his friend gave him a dozen eggs - eight of which Mr Choi managed to hatch three weeks ago. 'When I saw them hatch, it was a great achievement. People don't even think twice before cracking open an egg and frying it for dinner. They do not realise that there is a life within them. 'Every day I watch the birds grow taller. I enjoy the process of life. And when the chicks come up to me, it makes me feel like maybe they realise I am their father.' Mr Choi, who is having trouble naming all the new arrivals, has invited readers to send suggestions to: email@example.com .