SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Spotlight: Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project

December 15, 2016 

For more than 50 years, SeaWorld has been one of the great pioneers in wildlife conservation, research, and conservation education. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund provides resources for a wide variety of conservation programs worldwide that align with four key areas: animal rescue and rehabilitation, conservation education, habitat protection and species research. Take a look at one of the Fund’s partner programs, Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project.

The Problem: 

It is estimated that there are only about 1500 Ground-Hornbills left in their native land of South Africa. Of that total, only about half are actually safely located within protected areas of the Kruger National Park. 

How did this happen? The reasons for the decline of the birds are various but predominantly from natural predators, hunters, and Human-animal conflict. Trade, and traditional uses have also played a role in the diminishing of this population. Assuring that these birds populate in a protected area is crucial for their survival. 

Slow-breeding rates as well as slow progression of maturity makes these birds even more vulnerable. There are only around 417 breeding groups of Southern Ground-Hornbills in South Africa, and on average, only one chick is raised to adulthood every nine years. This is where the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project (MGHP) comes in. The South African project promotes the conservation of Southern Ground-Hornbill through research, awareness campaigns, and rehabilitation. 

What you need to know about the project: 

The Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project has been a partner in conservation with the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund since 2007. MGHP Founder Ann Turner says that the project was conceived from her love for birds and the desire to make a difference for the species, which helped get many current conservation structures in place. Since 2006, Discovery Cove aviculturists have traveled to South Africa to assist each year. Every chick that is brought in and hand-reared is important to continue the population by becoming part of the reintroduction and captive breeding program. Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens Tampa, and SeaWorld San Antonio’s Southern Ground-Hornbill animal ambassadors allow guests to get up close and learn about these regal birds. 

The Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project are at the forefront in fight to make sure that these culturally and environmentally important animals do not enter extinction. Education Awareness Campaigns give solutions and greater understanding of the species, as well as allowing hands-on educational activities for students of all ages. One way the MGHP say people can help is by supporting zoos and organizations that are dedicated to Ground-Hornbill conservation! 

How you can contribute:

Stay in touch and Learn more! If you are in an area and spot a Ground-Hornbill, let the MGHP know. You can also sponsor and support the cause by visiting the Project or just getting educated on these fascinating birds.

Join the SeaWorld Action Team

Read More:


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Meet The 2018 SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council


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Recognizing the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders