Developing a site selection tool to assist reintroduction efforts for the Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri.

By Cilliers, D. Steven Evans Coetzee, H. van Rensburg, L.  | 2013

The Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri (SGH) is regarded as Vulnerable globally and Endangered in South Africa as a result of losing close to 70% of its range and 50% of its historic population in the country. One of the conservation tools being used to address this issue and restore the population to its historic range is reintroductions. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritise probable reintroduction sites in the Mopane Bioregion and the Limpopo and Mpumalanga sections of the Lowveld Bioregion of South Africa (all in the Savanna Biome), by using a niche-based modelling technique (Maxent) combined with GIS analyses. Suitable SGH habitat was determined for farms in the study area and evaluated for the absence of mappable threats. Three priority areas were identified for reintroductions. These areas are in a near-natural state, offer sufficient habitat, are free of mappable threats and are close to formally protected areas. Field surveys of these three priority areas are needed next to validate their suitability for reintroduction purposes. This is the first spatially explicit reintroduction plan for the SGH that has been developed and will contribute to conservationists’ efforts to conserve the SGH.