Animals in Traditional Folk Medicine

pp 475-486


Finely Ground‐Hornbill: The Sale of Bucorvus Cafer in a Traditional Medicine Market in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

  • Robin K. BruynsAffiliated withSchool of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
  • , Vivienne L. WilliamsAffiliated withSchool of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand Email author 
  • , Anthony B. CunninghamAffiliated withSchool of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia People and Plants International

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Southern Ground‐hornbill (Bucorvus cafer) is used in traditional medicine in Zimbabwe, and the trade of this species was investigated in an informal sector market in Bulawayo. The frequency of hunting for B. cafer was found to be currently insignificant, and could neither be causally linked to population decline nor proved to be a driver of the low abundances of ground‐hornbills in the surrounding areas where hunting occurs. Cultural perceptions and the preferences of users in western Zimbabwe, primarily Matabeleland, appear to be a factor in the low levels of utilization. Hunting of ground-hornbills for traditional medical practices in this area is therefore not a significant threat to the species, since hunting practices appear to be rare and opportunistic rather than directly intentional. Habitat loss and degradation (largely due to agricultural expansion, charcoal and fuelwood demand) is likely to be the main threat to B. cafer populations.