SOUTH AFRICAN ANIMALS – HORNBILL MATES WITH HUMAN | MOHOLOHOLO SOUTH AFRICA

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DID YOU KNOW THAT SOUTHERN GROUND HORNBILLS ARE ENDANGERED?

South African animals include the Southern Ground Hornbill which is classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN list with only about 1500 in the whole of South Africa. This is mainly due to their shrinking habitat and persecution, and there are many programs currently in place to help monitor and preserve them.

Southern Ground Hornbill Dudu Moholoholo South Africa

Kruger National Park poster for reporting sightings of Southern Ground Hornbills

However we believe there is another reason.

MOHOLOHOLO WILDLIFE REHAB CENTRE – DUDU

Dudu apparently killed a previous mate whilst in captivity, and almost killed a second when another was introduced to him. He was then transferred to the Moholoholo Rehab Centre, near Hoedspruit in South Africa, to live out his days in an enclosure all on his own.

Southern Ground Hornbill Dudu Moholoholo South Africa

His neighbour in the next enclosure is a rather feisty African black crow, Winnie.

His rather pathetic drumming call could be heard at all times of the day, especially early in the morning. Thank god our sleeping quarters were some distance away – the calling of the hyenas outside our bedroom door was enough to cope with, let alone Dudu!

It was one of our volunteer jobs at Moholoholo to look after Dudu, to feed him and clean his enclosure on a daily basis.

South African Animal Hornbill Dudu Moholoholo

But one day, Dudu was behaving rather strangely and appeared to take quite an interest in Tony as he crouched down to ‘poop and feather pick’ his enclosure. iphones are great for impromptu animal video action and I couldn’t resist shooting evidence of why hornbills are endangered. Watch on….

Dudu is obviously a very confused hornbill. Perhaps he has been alone too long and has since forgotten what a female hornbill looks like? Or perhaps he thinks he is the next step in hornbill evolution, trying to cross the species in order to perpetuate his own?

Who knows, but we caught him in full on action, and now the world awaits what possibly could be an immaculate conception.  A true and unusual human-animal bond…

FACT FILE:

The Southern Ground Hornbill is largest of the hornbill species.

They are found from Kenya and the Congo, down to Angola, Namibia and South Africa, and are a huge black bird growing up to 130cm weighing up to 6kg, especially the males. They are omnivorous but generally carnivorous, and have a magnificent bright red wattle or throat pouch which inflates when they call, giving a rather drumming sound which reverberates and can be heard for quite some distance away.

Southern Ground Hornbill Dudu Moholoholo South Africa

They have one of the slowest reproductive rates, mating and producing a single chick once every 9 years. And they monogamous, mating for life, all 30-40 years of it. Looks like I am going to have competition from Dudu for a long time to come….

Photos and video by Tony and Irene Isaacson

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