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With a slow reproduction rate, a species under threat

The world’s largest hornbill

Southern ground hornbills have entirely black plumage. The areas around their eyes and on their neck are featherless and reveal the bird’s red skin. Their beak bears a protuberance known as a casque, which is more pronounced in the male.

The Southern ground hornbill is a vulnerable species that has suffered from habitat destruction, hunting and illegal trade for African medicine. With a slow reproduction rate, it is a species under threat.

Southern ground hornbills can be found in the open savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, in wet grassland and in the wooded areas of Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania.

Only two species are considered ground hornbills as they spend most of their time on terra firma. They prefer to hunt on foot and can cover several kilometres while looking for food.

Ground hornbills are relatively sociable animals. They live in small family groups comprising 2 to 8 individuals. They use song to mark out their territory, which can extend up to 100 km².

The Southern ground hornbill is the only one that does not seal the female within a tree cavity used as a nest. Clans are highly structured with one dominant mating couple, while the rest of the group (usually males) look for food and, if necessary, protect the nest. Their young remain in the nest for around three months, the time needed for their development and to learn how to fly. They definitively leave the nest and become independent at around the age of one.

Hornbills are sedentary, and the only migration that takes place is when their young reach maturity. It is usually the females who migrate to go on to form their own group.

  • Habitat

    Grassland, savannas

  • Food

    Insects, small reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, fruit

Did you know ?

The Latin name for the species, Bucorvus leadbeateri, commemorates the British taxidermist and merchant of natural history materials, Benjamin Leadbeater (1760-1837).

At PAL...

Southern ground hornbill

A zoological reserve populated by Asian elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, hippos, chimpanzees, gibbons, wolves, ostriches ... Animals evolving in their reconstituted natural environment, to discover as a family.

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