This Southern Ground Hornbill escaped from the zoo.

Johannesburg - Johannesburg City Parks and the zoo are appealing to residents to be on the lookout for a Southern Ground Hornbill that escaped from the zoo on Thursday.

Jenny Moodley, spokeswoman for Joburg City Parks and Zoo, said the large, dark-feathered bird – named “Tshukudu” – escaped after rains uprooted a tree that collapsed on a section of the enclosure.

Moodley said it got through a hole, perched itself on a tree and “gave the curator, Lara Jordan, and her team the runaround before flying over the fenced area of the Joburg Zoo, located in Saxonwold”.

The Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a charismatic bird, culturally referred to as a “thunder” or “rain” bird.

It is a flagship species for the savannah biome, along with the cheetah, white rhino and vultures.

Moodley said the zoo had a conservation programme to ensure the survival of this hornbill.

“A catch and rescue team is in place, scouting the Zoo Lake area for Tshukudu. While he is harmless, unless provoked, we urge residents not to feed him and to report any sightings to the Joburg Zoo,” said Jordan.

Jordan is the curator responsible for the private nature reserves’ Ground Hornbill Conservation Project in collaboration with the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute.

Call the zoo at 011 646 2000.

The Star