Loss of habitat and nest sites: In some countries southern ground-hornbills have lost 70 – 90% of their original range and are now only common in large, protected areas. This is due to human expansion, extensive farming, bush encroachment, over grazing and climate change. A lack of large trees results in the birds being unable to find suitable nesting sites.
Persecution: In traditional medicine ground-hornbills are occasionally killed for “muthi”, particularly in times of drought where in some cultures they are thought of as the “rain bird”, bringers of rain.
Due to the bird’s territorial behaviour they sometimes cause significant damage to windows, mirrors, or anything reflective. To the birds, they see their reflection as an intruding bird and therefore attack and peck at it, subsequently breaking the glass windows or mirrors and sometimes resulting in their persecution.
Poisoning: Occasionally, ground-hornbills will scavenge at carcasses. In cases where the carcass has been laced with poison, eating the flesh will have devastating and fatal effects on the birds as well as any other animal that feeds on the carcass. Hornbills can also get lead poisoning when the carcass they are feeding on has been shot with a lead bullet