Southern groundhornbill

Bucorvus leadbeateri

SUBFAMILY

Bucorvinae

TAXONOMY

Bucorvus leadbeateri Vigors, 1825, Lower Bushman River, South Africa. Monotypic.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Ground hornbill; African ground hornbill; French: Bucorve du Sud; German: Kaffernhornrabe; Spanish: Cálao Terrestre Sureño.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

35.4-39.4 in (90-100 cm); female 4.9-10.1 lb (2.23-4.58 kg), male 7.6-13.6 lb (3.46-6.18 kg). Largest hornbill species; black with white primaries and red throat skin.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern South Africa, Botswana, northern Namibia, Angola, and southern Burundi and Kenya.

HABITAT

Woodland and savanna. BEHAVIOR

Territorial, defending areas as large as 36 mi2 (100 km2) in S. Africa. Hunts on the ground in cooperative groups.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Most carnivorous of all hornbills, consuming arthropods, snakes, lizards, small mammals, and carrion using powerful dagger-like bill.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Cooperative breeder with juvenile offspring assisting dominant breeding pair. Generally lays two eggs September through December. Nests in unsealed tree or rock face lined with dry leaves and grass. Incubation 37-43 days; fledging c. 86 days; younger hatchling starves to death within one week to a month.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Widespread and common but at low densities and declining in some areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Revered, but eaten for food and medicinal purposes. ♦

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