Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri


Extant (resident)

Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Eswatini; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; South Africa; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe

Territorial and highly social, Southern Ground Hornbills collectively raise their young in groups – a process of parental guidance that can take up to two years – the longest of any bird species known. They are considered to be a culturally important species to many indigenous peoples and are known as rain birds or thunder birds for their folklore association with bringing rain and ending drought.

Southern Ground Hornbills are #vulnerable in #Uganda, #Congo from #deforestation and other #human threats. Help save these remarkable intelligent birds and #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife

Territorial and highly social, Southern Ground #Hornbills look after their young for up to two years in communal groups in #Uganda #Congo. They are #vulnerable. Fight for them and #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife

Appearance & Behaviour

Their loud booming calls are sometimes mistaken for the calls of big cats. Their long, distinctive eyelashes protect their eyes from dirt and harsh weather.

Southern Ground Hornbills are territorial birds that don’t migrate instead live in groups of 5-10 individuals made up of juveniles and adults. They are territorial and will defend large territories against neighbouring groups of hornbills. They are known to become aggressive and to pursue each other in the air.

They are active during both day and night and typically forage on the ground, walking slowing to search for food.

For more complicated prey such as snakes and large reptiles they gather and hunt in groups. Their booming voice calls to each other can be heard from up to three kilometres away. Group territories can range up to 100km square.


Southern Ground Hornbills face a number of complex human-related threats. Their primary threats are deforestation for palm oil, meat and mining along with hunting and human persecution.


Southern Ground Hornbills are threatened by:

  • Deforestation: habitat loss to palm oil, meat, timber, coffee and cocoa agriculture.
  • Electrocution from power lines
  • Accidental poisoning
  • Human persecution and poaching
  • Traditional medicines: that use body parts of the birds


They are found in grassland, savannah and forest habitats from northern Namibia and Angola to northern South Africa and southern Zimbabwe to Burundi and Kenya and Uganda.


Southern Ground Hornbills are carnivores who feed on reptiles, frogs, snails, insects and small mammals such as hares and squirrels. They will occasionally consume some fruit and seeds.

Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

Mating and breeding

They are monogamous birds who form long-lasting pair bonds. Each breeding pair is assisted by at least two other birds to care for young – in a behaviour known as cooperative breeding. Their 1-2 year period of parental care of chicks is the longest of any known bird species.

Their mating season is typically between September and December and they form nests deep within the hollows of trees or on steep cliffs. They line these with dry grasses and lay 1-3 eggs from which one chick will emerge. Their incubation period is roughly 40-45 days and the chick will be fed by many members of the group. There is an 85 day fledgling period, followed by a 1-2 year period of parental guidance. This lengthy period of parental care is the longest known of any bird species.

This means that Ground Hornbills can normally breed successfully only every third year. These birds are believed to reach reproductive maturity at 6 to 7 years, but very few breed at this age.

Support Southern Ground Hornbills by going vegan and boycotting palm oil in the supermarket, it’s the #Boycott4Wildlife

You can support this beautiful animal

APNR Southern Ground-Hornbill Research & Conservation Project

Mabula Ground Hornbill Project

Further Information

BirdLife International. 2016. Bucorvus leadbeateriThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22682638A92955067. Accessed on 31 October 2022.

Southern Ground Hornbills,

Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri

How can I help the #Boycott4Wildlife?

Contribute in five ways

1. Join the #Boycott4Wildlife on social media and subscribe to stay in the loop: Share posts from this website to your own network on Twitter, Mastadon, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube using the hashtags #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife.

Join 11,322 other followers

2. Contribute stories: Academics, conservationists, scientists, indigenous rights advocates and animal rights advocates working to expose the corruption of the palm oil industry or to save animals can contribute stories to the website.

3. Supermarket sleuthing: Next time you’re in the supermarket, take photos of products containing palm oil. Share these to social media along with the hashtags to call out the greenwashing and ecocide of the brands who use palm oil. You can also take photos of palm oil free products and congratulate brands when they go palm oil free.

4. Take to the streets: Get in touch with Palm Oil Detectives to find out more.

5. Donate: Make a one-off or monthly donation to Palm Oil Detectives as a way of saying thank you and to help pay for ongoing running costs of the website and social media campaigns. Donate here

Contribute to my Ko-Fi

Did you enjoy visiting this website?

Contribute to my kofi

Palm Oil Detectives is 100% self-funded

Palm Oil Detectives is completely self-funded by its creator. All hosting and website fees and investigations into brands are self-funded by the creator of this online movement. If you like what I am doing, you and would like me to help meet costs, please send Palm Oil Detectives a thanks on Ko-Fi.

Published by Palm Oil Detectives

Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, scientists, conservationists, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail and industrial agriculture sectors and through strong campaigning we can stop them cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join the #Boycott4Wildlife and stand up for the animals with your supermarket choices

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: