Today’s Blog Story I will be giving you some interesting facts about the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri).

This large bird can be found from northern Namibia and Angola to Northern South Africa to Burundi and Kenya. They are found in savanna habitat with short grass for foraging and large trees to make nests for there young ones.

They feed on reptiles, frogs, snails, insects and small mammals. They weigh anything from 2.2 to 6.2kg, males being larger than the females and stretching to a height of around 130 cm.

The southern ground hornbill is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat, which are generally believed to keep dust out of the eyes while they forage during the dry season. They live in groups of 5 to 10 individuals including adults and juveniles.

The incubation is about 40 to 45 days followed by an 85 day fledging period. The chicks will still be dependent on the parents for another year to 2 years, all depending on the climatic conditions. Chicks will reach sexual maturity at 6 to 7 years but very few birds will breed at that age. 1 to 3 eggs are laid but sublicite insures that only one chick will fledge. The average lifespan of these birds is 30 to 40 years but can reach ages of up to 70 in captivity.

These birds are listed as vulnerable in most of the world but in South Africa it is listed as critically endangered. This can be contributed to loss of habitat combined with their very slow reproductive rate (breeding only every 3rd year).

Stefan – Kapama River Lodge