African hornbills: keystone species threatened by habitat loss, hunting and international trade

  • Pepper W Trail US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, 1490 E Main Street, Ashland, OR 97520, USA


Africa is home to 23 of the world's 54 hornbill species, including the largest members of the family, the ground hornbills. None of Africa's hornbills are currently considered to be at significant risk of extinction by IUCN, and none are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). However, there is evidence for serious declines of African forest hornbills due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and to unsustainable exploitation for bushmeat. In addition, this paper documents a previously unreported international trade involving importation of African hornbills and their parts into the United States. In the absence of CITES reporting requirements, it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of this trade, but it appears to represent an additional threat to African hornbills, particularly large forest-dwelling species of the genera Bycanistes and Ceratogymna. Given this international trade, and other known threats to African forest-dwelling hornbills, the status of these species is in urgent need of review.

Ostrich 2007, 78(3): 609–613

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525