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Helmeted guineafowl

This relative to our ordinary chicken is excellent to have as a neighbor in Africa, if you are a animal that can be preyed upon, or even if you are a human being. Often they are used by locals as an alarm to watch when there are predators in the vicinity, because the helmeted guineafowl often detects hazards before many other animals do.

Threat category according to IUCN
  • Least
    concern
  • Near
    threatened
  • Vulnerable
  • Endangered
  • Critically
    endangered
  • Utdöd
  • Class Birds (Aves)
  • Order Wildfowl birds (Galliformes)
  • Family Pheasants (Phasianidae)
  • Genus Numida
  • Species Numida meleagris (dom.)
Size

The helmeted guineafowl weighs about 1.2 kg.

Ecology

This species occurs in Africa south of the equator. It is the most social of the guineafowls and can occur in flocks of more than 2000 birds. The helmeted guineafowl is mainly found on the ground, but just as domestic fowl they usually spend the night in trees. It runs rather than flies if it becomes frightened.

Food habits

Seeds, buds and leaves, but also insects, molluscs and small frogs.

Life

Approximately 10–12 years in the wild, and somewhat longer in the zoo.

Threat category

The species is not threatened, or in the vicinity of becoming endangered in the near future. In France and Italy, the species has been bred for 50 years to create modern breeds for meat and egg production.

Reproduction

At the start of the breeding season flocks tend to dissolve. Males become aggressive and start chasing each other and partake in ritualized ravenous fightings meant to impress females. The female lays 10–20 eggs in a concealed place and incubates them for about four weeks before they hatch.

Did you know?

The helmeted guineafowl’s loud alarm call is heard from quite far away and it can also be heard out on the zoo’s savannah if one of the larger animal species come too close to the flock.

They are considered in many parts of Africa as beneficial animals, as they eat particular insects such as ticks, which would otherwise spread disease. A group of guineafowls do also effectively remove snakes, spiders, cockroaches and other things that you do not want in or near your home.

Humboldt penguin > < Grant’s zebra