Family Hornbills (Bucerotidae)


Southern Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)


French: Bucorve du Sud German: Kaffernhornrabe Spanish: Cálao terrestre sureño

Buceros Leadbeateri


, 1825,

Lower Bushman River, South Africa


In the past, often listed as B. cafer on grounds that original description of leadbeateri, based on a specimen now lost, is claimed to refer to female of B. abyssinicus; convincing evidence, however, now suggests that lost specimen was female of present species; leadbeateri should therefore be retained and cafer considered a junior synonym. Monotypic.


S Kenya, and Rwanda S to SE DRCongo, Angola, N Namibia, N & E Botswana, and NE & E South Africa (S to Eastern Cape).

Descriptive notes

90–100 cm; male 3459–6180 g, female 2230–4580 g. Largest and heaviest hornbill species, all black with white primaries. Male has bare facial skin and... read more


A rhythmic series of low-pitched hoots “ooh...ooh...ooh-ooh”. Typically two notes followed by two... read more


Inhabits woodland and savanna; also frequents grassland adjoining patches of forest, ranging up to... read more

Food and feeding

Main diet made up of arthropods, such as grasshoppers, beetles, scorpions and termites; also, especially during dry season, insect larvae,... read more


Lays mainly Sept–Dec. Co-operative breeder, dominant pair assisted by adult and immature helpers; defends territory. Nest in cavity,... read more


Sedentary and territorial; no local movements described, except for dispersal at maturity, mainly... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Widespread and common, but sparse, with territories as small as 2–4 km2 in N Zimbabwe, or up to 100 km2 in NE South Africa. Occurs in several reserves and... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C. & Boesman, P. (2020). Southern Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).