Nature Focus

The Kori Bustard

by Okavango Expeditions

This first publication opens a series of articles that Okavango Expeditions will share with you every month to discover Botswana Wilderness… We will not only focus on the emblematic animals but we will make you discover with passion all the beauty and variety of wildlife in Botswana. So feel free to follow us by subscribing!

Do you know the Kori Bustard? This elegant and imposing bustard, Ardeotis Kori Kori of the Otididae family, is the national bird of Botswana since 2014.

The Kori bustard is very large with a massive and stocky body, an elongated neck and very long legs. The male measures 110 to 130 cm in length with an average mass of 12 kg, but the heaviest individuals can reach up to 20 kg, which makes this species the heaviest flying bird in the world!

There are 2 subspecies, one living in Southern Africa and therefore in Botswana and the other in East Africa.

The Kori Bustard particularly appreciates arid or semi-arid savannas with scattered trees or bushes. You will find it everywhere in Botswana outside the Okavango Delta wetlands.

Silent and fearless, mainly terrestrial, she wanders through the bush with elegance and pride, generally alone or in small groups of 2 or 3 individuals. It is very easy to observe because it moves quite slowly. But make no mistake about it, in case of danger, it can take off and fly over long distances!

Although its diet is omnivorous, it mainly consumes insects but also sometimes small mammals, lizards or snakes.

Kori Bustard courtship display

The Kori Bustard courtship display

On the reproductive side, the Kori Bustard is polygamous. His courtship display is particularly spectacular: males bristle the long feathers of their necks and swell their esophagus which can reach 4 times its normal size!

Very expressive and demonstrative, the males therefore spare no effort to gain the preference of a female and mate, before immediately leaving in search of a new partner.

Very present in Botswana, the species is not threatened there.

The Kori bustard holds a special place in Botswana culture where it has long been considered the chief bird because no one had the right to hunt or eat it outside of a tribal chief under penalty of being struck down by madness… It is also perhaps this privileged status that has enabled it to withstand human pressure!


This cultural respect also allows him to appear in numerous cave paintings, in Setswana proverbs, “The Kori sees the egg but not the trap” meaning that although vigilant, the Kori is easy to catch, or even traditional stories like the “King of birds” very well known in Africa … but this is another story …

You want to meet the Kori Bustard, then discover our mobile safaris to explore the Botswana wildlife!


Leave a Reply