Southern ground hornbill of Africa is the largest, heaviest of its kind
Southern ground hornbill of Africa, the largest and heaviest among hornbills, can live up to 60 years as confirmed by ornithologists. It is one among the 52 species of hornbills spread in Asia and Africa.
Weighing around five kilos with height reaching up to 110 centimetres, the southern ground hornbill does not charm you like the great Indian hornbill found in Western Ghats and Himalayan forests with its colourful plumage.
The southern ground hornbill is characterised by shining black colouration and red patches of bare skin around the eyes and on the throat that look swollen. Even its voice, albeit having a deep booming sound, does not resemble the mountain shaking voice of the Great Indian Hornbill.
The southern ground hornbill seen in South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Kenya and a few nearby countries attract ornithologists because of its way of life and strange looks.
Padmaanbhan Narayaann, a Keralite wildlife photographer based in Doha had captured its images from Masamara nature reserve in Kenya. He followed it for a full day while shooting an iconic cheetah named ‘Malaika’ in Kenya.
Ideal habitats of the ground hornbill is either woodlands or grasslands. Mostly it spends time on the ground during day and roost on large trees. It walks slowly foraging for its main diet which includes insects, snails, grasshoppers and small mammals using its strong beak.
The southern ground hornbills normally move around in groups. Padmanabhan Narayanan said that they were surprisingly unalarmed when seeing people around with cameras and rather posed for many photos.
Earlier, the native African tribal people used to consider the southern ground hornbill as a bad omen. When there was drought or children were pestered by ailments for long, the tribals fell it was brought by the bird and used to butcher it.
Thanks to numerous awareness campaigns, their superstitions have given way and most of the present generation is trained to protect the southern ground hornbills.