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Ground Hornbill Census

Southern Ground Hornbills are one of the most easily identifiable and most cherished bird species associated with trips to the game reserve.

Often erroneously called Turkey Buzzards, they are the largest members of the hornbill family. Formerly far more widespread, they are now an endangered species, seldom seen outside conservation areas. There booming calls are often mistaken for roaring lions. They are also birds of great superstition in African culture.

In SANParks they are still found in Kruger and Mapungubwe NPs and excitingly have recently been reintroduced to Marakele NP and even more excitingly some wild birds have been seen in the area of the park of their own doing. The introduced birds left the park, but then returned. It is hoped that a stable sustainable population will start to regulate itself. There is also a possibility Ground Hornbills could be found in Addo Elephant NP, as there are small populations in the Eastern Cape.

Ann Turner is busy with a research and rehabilitation project about Ground Hornbills and would really appreciate the public’s assistance.

Please keep out a special eye for them and to immediately report all sittings to Ann Turner at E-mail: project@ground-hornbill.org.za, Cell Phone 083 743 4270. Alternatively go to their website

If one does encounter Ground Hornbill in a National Park (or anywhere else for that matter) please record:

  • Date
  • Exact place (Exact place of encounter is for instance - 11 kms north of Satara on tar road to Olifants, etc.)
  • Time of day
  • Number of birds and ages (if determinable). Mature birds have the red on the faces and young ones no red (sub adults have yellow facial skin).
  • Also the condition - the feathers will show this.

Any photographs would also be appreciated.

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