Among all the emblematic animals of Disney animated films, birds are also in the spotlight, like a famous cookie-loving parrot. In The Lion Kingthis endearing winged character is unfortunately on the verge of extinction.
Zazu, the hornbill, is struggling to reproduce
With its long yellow beak and long tail, gray head and back, the Yellow-billed Hornbill was a designated Disney character. Its loud cry, accelerating through the vast dry expanses of South Africa, is as enchanting as it is alarming. Indeed, out of the world of The Lion King, the species of Zazu, the enlightened friend who advises Simba and Nala, is on the verge of extinction.
It is Newsweek who tells us: the latest research work shows that thehe reproduction rate of the bird, although accustomed to hot and arid areas, has fallen sharply in recent years. In a scientific article published in the prestigious journal Frontiers in Ecology and EvolutionDr. Nicholas Pattinson of the University of Cape Town studied the reproduction of Yellow-billed Cabaos over more than a decade, between 2008 and 2019. Far from the happy ending of the Disney monument, the results of this study are alarming to say the least..
Global warming as the main threat
Dr. Pattinson announces the color:
Over the period studied, the sublethal effects of high temperatures – including difficulties in finding food and maintaining body mass – reduced the hornbills’ chances of reproduction, if not their reproduction at all.
The data from this study are irrefutable. The reproduction rate drops drastically between the beginning (2008-2011) and the end (2016-2019) of the period studied, the rate of chicks born and fledged from the nest dropping from 58% to … 17%. Worse, on average, high nestling rate per litter decreased from 1.1% to 0.4%. The constant rise in temperatures in recent decades would be responsible for this serious drop in the birth rate of Hornbills. Scientists say a hatch attempt could not be made above 35.7º Celsius.
According to current forecasts of temperature rises for the region of South Africa, the Zazu-like could find themselves unable to breed by 2027. The effects of global warming are increasingly terrifying, threatening ever more biodiversity. We hope that Zazu will still be of good advice for a long time to protect the Living of our dear blue planet.