Malabar Pied Hornbill, which is a near-threatened species, has been protected under a community-based initiative involving the Kadar tribal community in the Vazhachal Forest division of the Western Ghats.
About Malabar Pied Hornbill
- The unique low-elevation riparian forest in the Athirappilly-Vazhachal areas is the only location where all the four south Indian species of hornbills – the Great Hornbill (the State bird of Kerala), Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill and the Indian Grey Hornbill – can be seen.
- According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Great Hornbill is a vulnerable category, while the Malabar Pied Hornbill is near-threatened.
- The Malabar Pied Hornbills were restricted to a few low-elevation locations in Kerala.
- Hornbill watchers of our community took the mission of protecting the nesting trees, says Geetha Vazhachal, Oorumooppathy (chief of the Kadar tribal community).
- The hornbills are extremely sensitive to disturbances. The hollows of high canopy trees serve as their nests.
- The niche specificity of the Malabar Pied Hornbill which is restricted to low-elevation forests (0-500 m from mean sea level).
Key Facts about hornbill
- The logo for India’s G20 presidency was officially unveiled recently at the Hornbill festival in Nagaland.
- The Great Hornbill is found in the Himalayan foothills, the Northeast and the Western Ghats. It is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
- The wreathed hornbill, the brown hornbill and the rufous-necked hornbill are slightly smaller, and only found in Northeast India.
- A great place to spot the oriental pied hornbill is the Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand. The Malabar grey hornbill’s loud ‘laugh’ echoes in the Western Ghats.
- The smallest of the group, the Indian grey hornbill is found all over (except the Thar Desert), and is often spotted in urban settings such as Theosophical Society gardens in Chennai.
- Hornbills prefer tall trees for their nests (breast height being 1.5 metres or more).
- There is a mutualism between these birds and the trees where they nest.
- As large fruit-eating birds, hornbills play a vital role in dispersing the seeds of about 80 rainforest trees.
- Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill (both endemic to the Western Ghats), the Indian grey hornbill and the endangered Narcondam hornbill (with a velvet black plumage and oversized yellow beak) endemic to the Narcondam Island in Andamans.
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