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The zoo’s involvement in the Mabula Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project was celebrated with a conservation walk.
WALKERS flocked to the Johannesburg Zoo to celebrate the success of the ground hornbill breeding project, where a conservation walk raised awareness of the endangered birds.


The Mabula Gropund HornbillThe walk aimed to raise awareness for the groung hornbillAbout 100 people joined zoo staff on 1 May, Workers’ Day, marking the zoo’s successful involvement in the Mabula Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project.

“The event aimed at raising awareness for one of South Africa’s most interesting birds, the southern ground hornbill,” said Candice Segal, the zoo’s acting brand and communications manager.

The species is listed as globally vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as its numbers continue to decline.

There are just 1 500 left in South Africa; their biggest threat is loss of habitat for nesting, caused by farming and cattle, secondary poisoning trapping, and the exotic bird trade.

Louise Gordon, the zoo’s executive manager of marketing and education, said the poisoning resulted from farmers putting out bait for large animals like jackal and leopard, which the hornbills ingested.

In the week leading up to the conservation walk, three ground hornbill chicks were introduced into the adult enclosure, which already housed one chick. These chicks were hand-reared at the zoo.

Segal said the birds’ enclosure was renovated to include various types of enrichment, which was crucial in ensuring a successful introduction.

This family of six now has a sandpit and a leafpit, which is used to hide food, as well as a number of new branches to perch on and a new roost box.

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