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Southern ground-hornbill feasts on hare

southern ground-hornbill eating hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

Written, and photographs by, Lisl Moolman

On the 16th April 2018, I was driving in the Kruger National Park in the Phalaborwa area, when I encountered a group of southern ground-hornbills foraging. I observed and photographed them as they fed on insects, worms and the like. Upon spotting something edible, a male hornbill would constantly call a female and she would hastily come to collect her prize.

southern ground-hornbill eating insect in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

This continued for about 5 minutes and then to my surprise, the male grabbed a juvenile hare from its hiding place. Again he called the female and then she proceeded in killing the little hare.

southern ground-hornbill with caught hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

I was surprised and shocked simultaneously to see the size of the prey. Afterwards I read up on this, and it stated that they would feed on insects, reptiles and prey up to the size of hare.

southern ground-hornbill killing hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

In a matter of 4 minutes she had killed and devoured her prey. Initially, in order to kill the hare, she impaled it with her long beak by repeatedly pecking at it.

southern ground-hornbill killing hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

She then slammed it against the ground to start feeding on the bits and finished it off entirely after a couple of minutes.

southern ground-hornbill eating hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman

She didn’t share it at all – a juvenile approached her and she made off with her meal to finish it in peace.

southern ground-hornbill eating hare in Kruger National Park, South Africa

© Lisl Moolman



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