Southern ground hornbill

Bucorvus leadbeateri

This is the largest of the hornbills, standing at over one metre high and weighing 6 kilos. It lives mainly on the ground and is an omnivore. It eats fruit, seeds and catches a wide variety of invertebrates, in addition to reptiles, small mammals and the chicks of other birds.
This hornbill makes its nest in holes in trees but, unlike all the other species of hornbill, the male does not wall in the female with a mud construction.

Breeding program

ESB_Zoo_Captura

Natural habit

Central Africa, Eastern and Southern.

Southern ground hornbill
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Preocupació menor

Taxonomy

Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Bucerotidae

Physical characteristics

345-460 g
Birth Weight:
90-100 cm
More than 15 years

Biology

Habitat
Savannah
Social life
Gregarious
Feeding
Carnivorous

Reproduction

Gestation
37-43
Days
Baby
2

Discover how they are

Biology

Description

This is the largest hornbill species and is easily distinguished due to being entirely black, except for white primary feathers, and by having vivid red patches of skin on its face and throat. It has a red pouch, or wattle, at its throat that it can voluntarily inflate, making it look a bit strange. The female and male are very similar in size and colouring, although the female's wattle is blue.

Habitat

It inhabits the African savannah, in both arid and wooded areas up to 3000 metres high.

Feeding

They eat any small animal they can capture, normally arthropods, although they can also capture larger prey such as snakes, frogs, lizards, rats, hares or squirrels, particularly during dry season. They also eat fruit and seeds. They kill their prey by hitting them with their large beaks.

Reproduction

Breeding is cooperative between group members, with one dominant pair that reproduces and the rest helping out. Nests are made in holes in tree trunks or rocky walls, which the male fills with dry leaves. The incubation of eggs, normally two, is done by the dominant female, which is fed by the rest of the group members throughout the process. The eggs hatch asynchronously and the second chick born normally dies of starvation.

Conduct

It lives and hunts in groups with two to eight individuals normally. This is a territorial and sedentary species, where only the young females tend to scatter when reaching sexual maturity.

Status and conservation programs

Its status is vulnerable due to the humanisation of many its breeding grounds. In South Africa, it has lost over 70% of its original territory in recent years. At present, the possibility is being researched of collecting these second eggs and raising them in captivity to later introduce them into nature.