[Species in News] Hornbills


  • Recently, a study based on satellite data has flagged a high rate of deforestation in a major hornbill habitat in Arunachal Pradesh.

Key Details

  • Ecologists used fine-scale satellite imageryto assess the changes in forest cover of the 1,064 sq.km. covering the Papum Reserve Forest (RF) adjoining the Pakke Tiger Reserve as well as a part of Assam affected by illegal felling and ethnic conflict.
  • The ecologists assessed the habitat loss due to illegal logging within a 1 km radius around 29 hornbill nest trees.

Back to Basics

About Papum Reserve Forest:

  • Papum Reserve Forest (RF) is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is located between two IBAs, Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary to the east and Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary to the west.
  • Papum Reserve Forest forms part of the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area. A large part of the site is covered by Sub-tropical Dry Evergreen and Semi-evergreen Forests, while the higher areas are under Subtropical Broadleaf Hill Forest cover.
  • Papum RF is a nesting habitat of three species of the large, colourful fruit-eating hornbills: Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied.
  • It is a part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity hotspot in India.
  • It is covered by Subtropical Dry Evergreen and Semi-evergreen Forests, while the higher areas are under Subtropical Broadleaf Hill Forest cover.

Pakke Tiger Reserve

  • Pakke Tiger Reserve (declared in 1999 – 2000) lies in the foothills of the eastern Himalaya in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve.
  • It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
  • It is home to over 2000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 36 species of reptiles.
  • Many species of the flora and fauna are globally threatened, and PTR is one of the last remaining strongholds left for these species.
  • It is known for its amazing sightings of four resident hornbill species.

Hornbills Birds:

  • The hornbills (scientific name Bucerotidae), are a family of birds found in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia.
  • India is home to nine species of hornbills. The northeastern region of India has the highest diversity of hornbill species. 
  • The Hornbill festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas. 
  • Hornbills are called ‘forest engineers’ or ‘farmers of forest’ for playing a key role in dispersing seeds of tropical trees, hornbills indicate the prosperity and balance of the forest they build nests in.
  • Since hornbills consume and spread seeds of fruit species, they are important for the economy and culture of local communities.
  • One of the kinds of Hornbill found in India is called the Great Indian Hornbill. 

Great Indian Hornbill- 

  • It is one of the larger members of the hornbill family, distributed along Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
    • It is an important bird in many tribal cultures and rituals owing to its size and unique colour.
    • The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
    • Though predominantly frugivorous, it also preys on mammals, reptiles and birds

Conservation Status

  • At present, 26 out of the 62 species (40%) of hornbills are Globally Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction, with all other species listed as Least Concern, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
  • It is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • The great hornbill is the state bird of Kerala and Arunachal in India and Chin State in Myanmar.
  • The Great Hornbill is used as the logo of Kerala Evergreen FC an Indian professional football club based in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.
  • A great hornbill called William (pictured) was the model for the logo of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the name of their building.

Source: The Hindu

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