Conservation status


Life span

40 -50 years




35 to 50 inches from its head to tail feathers.


5 and 13 pounds

Native habitat

savannah grasslands, scrub and light woodlands across eastern and southern Africa.



Bucorvus leadbeateri


They are well-adapted for moving and living on the ground, rather than an arboreal lifestyle. It has vivid red patches of bare skin on its face and throat and a large black bill. They rely heavily on vision and have long eyelashes to help keep dirt and sunlight out of their eyes. They have Binocular Vision. They hunt by probing, pecking, and digging at the ground. They are the largest birds in the hornbill family. Southern ground hornbills are live in social groups of about two to eight individuals and only one mating pair in each flock. The male protects the female while she is nesting, watching for small predators that may steal their eggs. Southern hornbills show cooperative breeding. The male and other hornbills in the flock provide food for the incubating female. Chicks receive care from both parents and the rest of the birds in the flock. Southern ground hornbills may spend the night roosting in trees.



The species is listed as globally Vulnerable and have been up-listed to Endangered in 2014 in South Africa. Habitat loss and hunting are the main threats. They have a relatively restricted distribution, only found in a particulars area of Africa, which may restrict their chances for survival. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect the species including increase population and reverse the decline by reintroducing where the species has become locally extinct, collecting data, and information on threats and mortalities, collect and analyze DNA samples to determine the genetic structure of global and local populations, mitigating threats, undertaking education and awareness campaign and providing artificial nests for wild groups, work towards slowing and reversing the decline of the species while carrying out fundamental research on these iconic birds. Many projects include the Mohamed bin Zayed Species project in UAE, The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project IN south Africa, The APNR Southern Ground-Hornbill Project, based in the Greater Kruger National Park and many conservation entities including modern zoos worldwide are working on to preserve the population of the species.