IMPERIAL Logistics group company IMPERIAL Truck Rental recently heeded a call for help from an unusual source – a rare bird facing extinction, the Southern Ground Hornbill.
While species like rhinos, cheetahs and wild dogs get the lion’s share of news headlines, public interest and corporate donations, this special bird is quietly becoming extinct in Africa.
Without conservation intervention, it is projected that the Southern Ground Hornbill will be extinct in as little as 50 years’ time.
IMPERIAL Truck Rental was alerted to the bird’s plight by the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, a registered non-profit organisation that is working to ensure the survival of the species.
One of its main functions, according to project manager Lucy Kemp, is to harvest, together with partners Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, and transport “doomed second chicks” from the nests of Southern Ground Hornbills around the country.
This work is carried out in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and is now expanding to Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Kemp said: “According to the long-term data collection in the Kruger National Park, one of the factors contributing to the Southern Ground Hornbill’s situation is that it breeds very slowly, with the bird first breeding at around eight years of age, and thereafter, it successfully raises just one chick every nine years.
“Two eggs are laid at each breeding attempt and the parents can only care for one, abandoning the other. The second chick acts as a natural insurance policy to ensure that all the energy put into breeding amounts to something.”
It is this second redundant chick that is the basis of the project’s conservations efforts. “We take them from wild nests to specialised hand-rearing facilities, and they are later reintroduced back into the wild,” added Kemp.
This reintroduction effort aims to restock areas where the birds have become locally extinct (60 percent of their natural range), to halt the decline in their numbers, and slowly work towards rebuilding the population to sustainable levels.”
IMPERIAL Truck Rental donated a vehicle to the project, for use during its busiest time of year.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.