Another successful harvest season completed

Natasha Nienaber is the new Assistant Project Manager of the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project.

MABULA – Good rains and good people have ensured that 2011/2012 Southern Ground-Hornbill harvest season of the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project, was a success.

A total of 11 chicks are safely in the capable hands of Delecia Gunn from Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency at Loskop Dam Municipal Reserve and Lara Jordan, Elaine Bratt and Christine Giannone at Johannesburg Zoo.

Hand-rearing these chicks requires skill and immense stamina for the long hours and is not an easy task by any means and for their commitment, the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project are eternally grateful.

This annual initiative, during the breeding season (December to January) is conducted mostly in the Kruger National Park and the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR). The hornbills lay on average two eggs about three to five days apart in natural hollows in larges trees like figs, baobabs and leadwood. If the first chick is healthy, the second one is always doomed to dehydration and starvation due to parental neglect, if there is something wrong with the first chick, the second will be raised to fledging instead, this is nature’s insurance scheme. In collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, SanParks, APNR, Makalali Private Reserve, and the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, the project harvest these doomed second-hatched chick. Each chick is stabilised and carefully transported to hand-rearing facilities. This effectively doubles the productivity of wild nests and a means to increase the Southern Ground Hornbill numbers. This is needed to safeguard the declining wild population and rebuild locally extinct population, through both the captive breeding programme and release back into the wild.

The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project also welcomes Natasha Nienaber to the board. She brings a wealth of new experience to the Project as Assistant Project Manager. She has excellent bush knowledge, has hand-reared white rhino and been the lead on a very successful cheetah release.

A very easy way to support the Ground-Hornbill conservation at no extra cost is to register at various outlets, like Woolworths, and every time you swipe, a percentage of your spend will be donated to the Project.

For more information on the project or to add them as a beneficiary, email project@groundhornbill.org.za.