Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Ground Hornbill – English
Bromvoel – Afrikaans
Hornrable – German
Calao Terrestre, Bucorve du Sud – French
Calao-gigante – Portuguese
Zuidelijke Hoornraaf – Dutch
The Southern Ground Hornbill is the largest of the 5 Hornbills found in southern Africa (African Grey Hornbill, Red-Billed Hornbill, Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill, and Trumpeter Hornbill) Conspicuous by their size, the male weighs 4.3kg and the female 3.4kg and varies in height between 90cm-130cm, the male has the larger bill. They are very distinctive with their bare red skin on the upper neck. Juveniles’ facial skin is initially pale grey/brown, turning yellow within a year and flecked red after 2 years, orange after 3 years, and only fully red after 4-6 years. They are normally found in groups of 3-5 birds.
Found in Kenya, DRC, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and in the east and northeastern South Africa (Kruger National Park). They are a common sighting in the central parts of Kruger National Park between Satra Rest Camp, Orpen Gate Rest Camp and Olifants Rest Camp.
The Southern Ground Hornbill is currently classified as Vulnerable under the criteria A4bcd. In Southern Africa, it is listed as Endangered. Widespread but at low densities with only 600-700 birds in the Kruger National Park and about 1500 in South Africa.
Southern Ground Hornbills are territorial and resident. Southern ground hornbills are carnivorous and hunt mostly on the ground. Their food ranges from insects to small animals. Their nests are often found in high tree cavities or other shallow cavities, such as rock holes in cliff faces. These birds are a long-lived species, having lifespans in the range of 50–60 years, and up to 70 in captivity.
Inhabits a wide range of grassland, savanna, and woodland. From montane grasslands at 2000m to the Lowveld at 450m, the Southern Ground Hornbill will not be found in treeless areas like the Kalahari or dense thickets and forests.
Diet – Foraging, and Food:
Southern Ground hornbills walk slowly in a group, searching for a wide range of prey like termite alates, dung beetles, grasshoppers, frogs, snakes, lizards, chameleons, tortoises, mongoose, birds, and even young hares. They seldom eat vegetable material.
A well-known, monogamous, cooperative breeder with up to nine helpers. They nest in a natural cavity in a tree 2-9 meters above the ground. They lay 1-2 eggs in October-November with an incubation period of 37-43 days and fledge after 86 days.
Vulnerable in Southern Africa due to their slow population turnover. They are susceptible to poisoning while foraging and persecuted for breaking house and car windows when hammering at the reflection. Generally revered by the African people and collected occasionally as ‘muti’ associated with bringing rain.
The Mabula Game Reserve has a dedicated Southern Ground Hornbill conservation project. Click here for more information
For more information about the Southern Ground Hornbill click here
For another interesting article about the Southern Ground Hornbill click here
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or email Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org for accommodation options in the Greater Kruger Park