The information in this section is a brief overview about kori bustard research. Check out the Resources page on this website to find links to the Gompou newsletters and more research articles. The blog also includes information about current research.
Full length research papers:
Koris Under Human Care
There are currently 150 kori bustards under human care. The majority of kori bustards are held in the United States but there are also birds in Germany, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Italy. Kori bustards have been kept in zoos since the late 1930s. However, the first breeding did not occur until 1989 when Nurnberg Zoo in Germany became the first facility in the world to breed kori bustards. In 1992, Dallas Zoo became the first zoo to hatch a chick in the Western Hemisphere.
The Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC is one of only a handful of facilities in the world that have successfully bred kori bustards. Despite these successes, little is known about kori bustards and their behavior. In 1999, the National Zoo began a behavioral watch on kori bustards in an effort to increase the basic understanding of the species.
In the Wild
In general, very little is known about the movements and migration patterns of either population. Kori bustards are not migratory in the true sense but preliminary studies, in Namibia's Etosha National Park, using conventional radio tags indicate that male juvenile kori bustards undertake extensive movements after breeding season. Juvenile females do not appear to undertake such movements.
Kori bustard, Ardeotis kori
If the species is to survive, they need assistance now in the form of habitat management, public education, increased captive breeding and further research into their behavior and ecology.
Status in the Wild
Total population size is unknown for both subspecies. Koris are listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - website). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the kori bustard status as Near Threatened. In Eastern Africa, protected areas such as National Parks offer good protection for the species. Viable populations can be found outside protected areas but birds continue to be hunted.
Habitat loss has led to a major decline in all bustard species. Reasons for the decline are numerous and include habitat destruction from agriculture and development, bush encroachment caused by overgrazing from livestock, illegal hunting, collisions with overhead power lines, and a general low tolerance of human activity. As human populations increase and loss of habitat continues, the kori bustard population can be expected to decline further.
Relationship to Other Animals & Humans
Small birds called Carmine bee-eaters can often be seen perching on the backs of foraging kori bustards. The bee-eaters eat insects stirred up by the koris as they move about. In return, the kori bustards may receive some form of predator protection - when the bee-eaters startle or fly away, it could be a signal that a predator is nearby.
Humans have also developed a relationship with kori bustards. These birds have been included in dances and songs of the Bushmen of Botswana. Drawings have been found in caves depicting the species. Although listed as "protected game" it is still hunted throughout its range. In Namibia, it is commonly referred to as the "Christmas turkey" and in South Africa it is called the "Kalahari Kentucky."