Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus Leadbeateri)

May 09, 2024
Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus Leadbeateri)

At Gwango we’re incredibly fortunate to have a resident flock of Southern Ground Hornbill. These very special birds have a majestic presence and a tale as old as time...

Driving Gwango through the estate it’s not uncommon to see the dark shadows of our massive featured friends as they glide from tree to tree or strut about, foraging for what may be moving about on the Kalahari sands. Small animals need to lie low when a party of Ground Hornbills is out foraging because these omnivores snap up almost anything from insects and lizards to small birds, rodents, tortoises and snakes as large as the puff adder. In the wild, no one eats the Ground Hornbill, they are the predator and not the prey. They capture their meal - and will often toss it into the air before catching and swallowing.

Their very existence is a story of collaboration and tradition that is as rich as the history of the land they (and we) call home. A typical Ground Hornbill family consists of a crew of adult males, a single wise matriarch, and their fledgling chick. As a family, they all work together to keep safe, ..and everyone's got a role to play - from hunting to standing guard against rival Hornbill gangs! Yes you heard that right - the Hornbill chicks get kidnapped by rival Hornbills if left alone…

When you spot them, it’s hard to miss the very obvious Mr. Macho Hornbill, strutting around like he's auditioning for the next big bird band. He is always close by keeping the clan in line and ensuring the next generation gets off to a flying start. Meanwhile, Mrs Mama Hornbill is keeping her egg protected in the nest, patiently waiting for the bundle of joy to hatch.

Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus Leadbeateri)

Now, here's the kicker… despite their rockstar status in the wild, these birds are in it for the long haul. They're monogamous, sticking with their mate for approximately 50 years - that's commitment! And talk about taking things slow - they have one of the slowest reproductive rates in the bird kingdom, producing only one chick approximately every 9 years. It's like they're saying… "quality over quantity, folks!!"

But these birds aren't just iconic figures in the bush...they're living legends, embroiled in myths and magic. In some cultures, they're like the guardians of the land, their very presence ensuring prosperity and protection from harm. But cross one of these majestic creatures, and you might just find yourself in trouble. Legends say that harming a Ground Hornbill is like tempting fate itself, inviting floods and misfortune to wash over your land. It's a belief so strong that rainmakers perform rituals involving these birds to summon the heavens to open up.

Ah… and brace yourselves for this one - they can also predict the future! They say that where the Ground Hornbills roam, riches are sure to follow. But don't get too cozy with them...linger too long, and you might find yourself facing some ominous prophecies of your own!

So, if you happen upon the majestic Southern Ground Hornbill while trekking through the African wilderness, pause for a moment and reflect on the stories they carry within their wings.....perhaps, if you listen closely, you might just hear the whispers of the ancient wisdom that they have carried with them through the ages - they are, after all - the keepers of the troves of tales and traditions.. and maybe even a little touch of magic.

… some interesting random facts:
Once the female Hornbill lays her egg, she has to incubate it for around 40 days, during which time the rest of the family will bring her food. Once the incubation period is over, she leaves the nest to join the rest of the other Ground Hornbills and begins to feed the chick.



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