oa Koedoe : African Protected Area Conservation and Science - The home range of a recently established group of Southern ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) in the Limpopo Valley, South Africa : original research
Little is known about Southern ground-hornbill (SGH) population ecology outside of large, formally protected areas where the largest declines in numbers have been recorded. The SGH has started re-colonising, establishing group territories and breeding successfully in the Limpopo Valley on the northern border of South Africa, following localised extinction from the 1950s to the 1970s. A group of SGH was monitored over a period of 14 months by means of radio telemetry across privately owned land in order to investigate their seasonal habitat movements in this semi-arid, predominantly livestock-based environment. We also investigated seasonal fluctuations in invertebrate prevalence, as an indication of food availability and its influence on seasonal SGH group movements and foraging activity patterns. There was a clear increase in food availability during the summer rainfall period allowing the group to forage over a wider area, whilst winter foraging remained localised within their range. Kernel home range analysis indicated a marked difference in size between the summer (13 409 ha) and winter (5280 ha) home ranges, with an overall home range of 19 372 ha, which is approximately double that of home ranges recorded that fall within formally and informally protected reserves. In this article, we proposed that food availability is the driving force for home range size and seasonal activity patterns in a semi-arid livestock-ranching habitat.
Conservation implications : The Limpopo Valley SGH population is one of the most significant outside protected areas in South Africa. This population is especially vulnerable to threats such as poisoning, persecution for window breaking and drought, as shown by their near extirpation from the area. Conservation efforts need to focus on awareness amongst local farmers, provision of artificial nests and continued monitoring of groups.
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