03 10/03/2011

Hornbill Project Shatters Preconceptions

The Chester Zoo supported Mabula Hornbill Project has helped teach local school children in rural South Africa not to fear a group of ground hornbills, the only group of this species left in the area.

The rural school in South Africa had their windows broken by a group of ground hornbills, leaving the school children with a real fear of the birds and the local community believing that the birds are evil spirits sent to do harm. The Mabula project team had a successful visit to the school where they not only organised for a glass manufacturer to replace the broken windows for free, but protected the glass from further hornbill attacks using tough fabric.

The project team gave a presentation to the school showing the importance of conserving this beautiful and intelligent species. This is an essential part of the project and encourages the community to become engaged with the conservation efforts for the birds.

At the same time, new radio-tracking receivers provided by Chester Zoo arrived at Mabula, allowing the team to track the birds in the wild. The project team went straight out into the field to learn to use the receivers and track the birds. The Southern Ground Hornbill is a threatened species and is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list and the projects ultimate aim is to re-establish the hornbills back into their historical range by 2020.