Captive breeding work has become a valuable modern day conservation tool

16 Sep
A threatened Southern-Ground Hornbill. Photo courtesy Mabula Ground-Hornbill project South Africa

The threatened Southern-Ground Hornbill. ( Only 1,500 left ) Photo courtesy Mabula Ground-Hornbill project South Africa

Listed in South Africa as Endangered the Southern Ground-Hornbill species was first bred in captivity, to aid modern day conservation initiatives, back in 1999. There are less than 1500 Southern Ground-Hornbills left in South Africa . The Kruger National Park accounts for 700 of these birds. Extensive habitat loss is a major threat which is further complicated by the slow reproductive cycle of the species.  These birds live in groups of two to nine birds, of which there is only one alpha female. ( mean group size 3.6. estimated breeding groups only 417 ) On average she will raise only one chick to fledging every nine years. The female takes up to 10 years to reach sexual maturity and will then lay two eggs. The second and smaller chick will always starve to death. Controlled harvesting of the second chick now also takes place in the Kruger National Park during the breeding season to further conservation work.

Ann Turner : Founder and coordinator of the Mabula Ground-Hornbill project in 1999. Photo courtesy Ground-Hornbill Research and Conservation Project

Ann Turner : Founder and coordinator of the Mabula Ground-Hornbill conservation project in 1999. Photo courtesy MGHCP

In 1999 Ann Turner founded the Mabula Ground-Hornbill conservation project ( MGHCP), at the Mabula Game Reserve in the north western part of South Africa. Along with the invaluable support of Dr. Alan Kemp she and her team established the protocol needed to hand rear and release ground-hornbills back into the wild. Today volunteers come from all over the world to learn how to work with these threatened birds. The project leaders use the very best knowledge available from both the wild as well as captive breeding programmes to ensure every possible chance for conservation success. The conservation work on the Southern Ground-Hornbill is, arguably, the first high profile example in South Africa where aviculturists were able to contribute, in a meaningful way, to the needs of modern day conservation work.

Exciting new photographic guide HORNBILLS OF THE WORLD by Dr. Pilai Poonswad, Dr. Alan Kemp and Dr. Tim Laman

Exciting new photographic guide HORNBILLS OF THE WORLD by Dr. Pilai Poonswad, Dr. Alan Kemp and Morten Strange. Dr. Tim Laman and 61 other world class photographers made their best work available. ISBN 978-981-07-3528-9. Photo Eelco Meyjes 

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is proud to inform its followers that an exciting new photographic guide has been published on all 57 hornbill species in the world. 32 species are in Asia and 25 species are found in Africa. Many of the species today are listed as threatened and where necessary captive breeding work is being used as a tool to support conservation work. The authors Dr. Pilai Poonswad ( Thailand ) Dr. Alan Kemp ( South Africa ) Morgan Strange (Singapore ) are all renowned hornbill experts. Copies of this outstanding new publication can be purchased from http://www.mabulagroundhornbillconservationproject.org.za/ or e mail Lucy Kemp project@ground-hornbill.org.za for more information. All proceeds from the sale of each book will be used to further their conservation work.

The above information is shared by the Rare Finch Conservation Group which is a registered non-profit organisation. http://www.rarefinch.org

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SEE – CONSERVE – ENJOY

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