01 20/01/2011

Success for Ground Hornbills

  • Birds
  • Conservation in the zoo

We have recently received confirmation that the Mabula Ground Hornbill Research & Conservation Project in South Africa has reached the end of a hugely successful breeding season.

In total, 10 chicks were rescued from the wild and brought into a conservation breeding programme to be hand-reared by the team.  Ground hornbills rarely manage to successfully raise two chicks; the second chick to hatch usually dies from dehydration as the parents only feed the first chick. By removing the second chick, it can be successfully raised to later be released back into the wild.  So far, the project has successfully hand-reared and released 28 chicks back into the wild.

Chester Zoo has been supporting the Mabula Ground Hornbill Research & Conservation Project in South Africa since 2007. This project is working to protect the Southern Ground Hornbill which until last year was classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. This status was based on old information and did not reflect the threats the species are currently facing.  Due to the work of the project, the species was re-listed as Vulnerable in 2010.  Getting acknowledgement that the species is seriously threatened will help the project convince land owners, potential funders and government bodies of the urgent need for conservation action. The projects ultimate aim is to re-establish the hornbills back into their historical range by 2020.  The main threat to Ground Hornbills is habitat loss, which not only diminishes habitat for them to live in but also reduces the amount of food available for the birds, which puts the chicks in particular at risk.