Breeding density of the southern ground hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri, in the communal areas surrounding the Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe
The southern ground hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri, is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a ‘Vulnerable’ species with a decreasing population. Despite a myriad of threats, including loss of nesting sites, accidental poisoning and persecution, there has been no detailed study of the southern ground hornbill in Zimbabwe.We collected data on nest sites and usage for 42 nests over three breeding seasons in the communal areas surrounding the Matobo National Park. For the active nests in the breeding seasons of 2008/9 and 2009/10 the mean nearest neighbour distances were 4.41 km and 3.53 km, respectively. Most nests were found in granite crevices (67%) while the remainder were found in five different tree species. Most nests (90%) were in areas of subsistence crop farming, the remainder (10%) were found in forests and open savannas. The high breeding density of the southern ground hornbill in the communal areas surrounding the Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe could be attributed in part to traditional Ndebele culture which, for the most part, protects this species. Food also appears to be relatively abundant under communal farming conditions.
Key words: breeding density, communal lands, nest preferences, southern ground hornbill, Zimbabwe.