Category Archives: Editors Choice

How do you safely sedate a Southern ground Hornbill?

How do you safely sedate a Southern ground Hornbill?

Wildlife Pharmaceuticals, the National Zoological Gardens and the Mabula Ground hornbill project have an ongoing project where we are trying to find an orally administered drug combination that can be used to safely sedate Southern Ground Hornbills. This might sound simple and straight forward but to date, no oral sedation protocol has ever been developed for this species.

Some interesting facts about the Southern Ground Hornbill:

  • They are the largest of all the hornbills and one of the world’s longest-lived birds, living on average 35-40 years in the wild
  • They are monogamous breeders that reach maturity at 6 years. They are also very slow breeders and a pair produces just one brood of two chicks every nine years – only one of which survives
  • Owing to large scale habitat destruction and its exceedingly slow reproductive rate, the Southern Ground Hornbill is classed as vulnerable to extinction; however, in South Africa, where most studies on the species have been carried out, it is listed as endangered

For more information and to support the incredible work done by the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, visit