Southern Ground-Hornbills are endangered within South Africa, having lost about 70% of their historic range and population within the past 100 years. Mainly due to the usual human influences of land-use change etc.
The project we are raising funds for (APNR Ground-Hornbill Project) has been researching and conserving the birds for the past 20 years. It is run by the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. Their study site is the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) which is the collective name for Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat, Thornybush, and Balule Private Nature Reserves.
It was noticed early on that one of the limiting factors for the birds’ success was a lack of natural nesting sites and so artificial nests began being installed in 2002 and have been a huge success for the birds in the area. They are extremely slow breeders but with the supplementation of the artificial nests, we have seen over 100 birds fledge from them.
Along with this, they contribute towards the national Species Recovery Plan which involves the reintroduction of ‘harvested’ birds into their historic range. This is done in collaboration with the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project which drives the reintroduction process. Ground-Hornbills lay two eggs, however, only a single chick ever survives (the second is an insurance egg) and so before that second chick dies, APNR Ground-Hornbill Project will go in and take it from the nest where it then goes into the rearing process before being placed into artificially formed groups and released back into their historic range.
Finally, one of their main focuses is on the research of the species, most of which is done to aid conservation. Published research on habitat use, reproductive successes, natal and breeding dispersals have all come from this project so far. More recently though, they are currently investigating the detailed social structures of the species, as well as how climate change might affect the breeding of the birds.
Wish List: APNR Ground-Hornbill Project