Boom in the Bushveld
(and now the grasslands too)

new groups, aviaries, partners and more

A new group has been established in the Limpopo Province as part of the 'bush-school' framework, and is the testing ground for methods to anchor these new groups into the massive safe areas (where we have mitigated for all known threats prior to release) chosen for them , in this case for more than 45 000 ha. Once they have established their territory they are unlikely to wander but the challenge comes with trying to help them establish their territory in safe areas. Other methods we are testing are supplementary feed, decals to simulate neighbours and vocalisation call backs, in addition to constantly striving to better our understanding of what is critical versus preferred habitat. 

our new mobile soft-release aviary will now drastically reduce the costs of each subsequent release: predator-proof, safe and large enough to ensure maximum fitness at release....

We are extremely grateful to Montecasino Bird Gardens for assisting with the funding and Sean Godfrey and Deon Redelinghuys for their support with the design. 

new partners for new nests

This team of bright young minds from the Tshwane University of Technology Design Department, under the guidance of Kyle Brand,  have come on board to take our preliminary artificial nest designs through to fruition. They will spend the next few weeks designing various prototypes that, if they fit the bird, will then be taken through to production and field testing. This is a very exciting new partnership - watch this space!!

Initial DNA sampling has come to a close, and once the last samples from museums and zoos abroad come in we can begin analysis. How healthy are they? How strong is their genetic diversity in the face of such swift declines? What will this mean for management of captive breeding and reintroduction programmes? 

With hundreds of samples from thoughout their range (from Tanzania all the way to the Eastern Cape in South Africa) now safely at the Biobank of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa we can FINALLY begin the analyses of the full population and answer several pressing questions. No live ground-hornbills were harmed in the collecting of these DNA samples! 

Thank you to everyone who supported our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for building the new hand-rearing facility. We, through this, and several successful small grant proposals have managed to raise about 75% of what we need for the first phase - the most important part. We need to get this up and running by the next breeding season to ensure we can start producing release quality birds at a scale that will be meaningful for population recovery. If anyone has contacts who would be willing to assist with in-kind support of building materials we would be very grateful. If you would like to contribute, in any small way, please drop us a line:

The Loskop Dam Nature Reserve release that was conducted last July is still going well - the three males have remained bonded as a group and the juvenile has survived an extremely harsh dry season. The female still remains aloof but always within hearing range of the group.  The end goal achieved: another 'bush-school' for training naive hand-reared birds.

The males have made some very distant forays  into neighbouring properties but always return to their release site and supplementary feeding. The monitors Petros and Poppie must be commended for their exceptional dedication to this group of birds. The female, despite being on her own, is in good health and is sighted almost daily.