The Southern Ground Hornbill is an incredibly special bird species for various reasons. Besides being among the most iconic emblems and charismatic members of South Africa’s savannah fauna, they are also culturally revered and biologically unique. It has now become our job at Sabi Sabi to try and ensure the future of at least two hatchlings of this iconic species.
Now we know that on average, Southern Ground Hornbills can live as long as 50 years. However, they breed very slowly, only fledging one chick every nine years.
As discussed in our prior blog, they have two eggs, but unfortunately only one survives. If the first chick is healthy, the parents will neglect the second egg. The second chick, once hatched, may die from starvation, dehydration and possibly maternal cannibalism.
By getting involved, the Sabi Sand Wildtuin (SSW) is giving the “insurance policy” a chance at life. This entails that we are improving the survival rate of these special birds.
In light of the Christmas spirit, we are very pleased to announce that one of the chicks has successfully hatched. Our SSW team, as well as the Mabula Ground Hornbill project has started the process of collecting and harvesting.
The first hatched will now be left for the mother to rear. The redundant second egg has been removed and taken to Loskop Dam Nature Reserve where it will be raised by Natasha Nel under the supervision of Delecia Gunn. Delecia has an amazing success rate in rearing Southern Ground Hornbill chicks and forms an integral part of the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project.
Just in case you were wondering, this is not the end of our newly hatched Christmas special. Southern Ground Hornbill’s are incredible mothers. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is most certainly true. When it comes to the Hornbill family, each and every one participates in raising the young providing it with much need sustenance on a daily basis.
We will be sure to keep you updated with the happenings of both egg and newly hatched in the coming of the New Year!