Mabula Ground Hornbill Conservation Project

I take the subtitle of this blog—Saving the World, One Pixel at a Time—seriously and so the following post is only indirectly about photography although the preservation of any avian species should be important to any bird photographer. In some recent posts I have written about my growing interest in birdwatching and while I may never get a chance to see a Southern Ground Hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri, in person some people are actively working towards halting the decline of the bird in the Savannah home of South Africa.

above image courtesy of The Mabula Ground Hornbill Conservation Project

The Southern Ground Hornbill is the largest of the 58 Hornbill species distributed mainly in Asia, India and Africa and since 1999 The Mabula Ground Hornbill Conservation Project has been conducting a Genetic Study of Southern Ground Hornbills throughout their range. Analysis of their collected data shows Southern Ground Hornbills in South Africa to be “Endangered” and probably “Critically Endangered” under IUCN Criteria but their numbers are still declining.Further collection of sightings data is now in progress to discover the global status at the instigation of Birdlife International.

Groups consist of 2—9 birds, of which there is only one breeding female from which an average of only one chick is raised to adulthood every nine years. Over the past 50 years Ground Hornbills have lost over 70% of their natural habitat and The Mabula Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project are addressing these issues by harvesting and hand-rearing of second hatched chicks which die of starvation in the nests along with other strategies that you can read about here.

This is a tough time for all of us financially but if you are a bird photographer who wants to help keep one more species from extinction and can spare a few bucks to help this cause, information on donations can be found here.

Author: Joe Farace

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