Helmeted Hornbill Harvesting Could Lead to Extinction

The Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) is a beautiful and bizarre-looking bird of southeast Asia. It uses its casque (helmet) in territorial battles between males.

helmeted hornbill
By Doug Janson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Disgustingly, its helmets are also pursued by poachers for their “red ivory”. This has been decimating the birds population.

“Last November, the helmeted hornbill’s conservation status was upped from “near-threatened.” It shot past “vulnerable” and “endangered” and landed at one level away from “extinct”—”critically endangered.” An uplisting of that many steps so fast is rare.” – National Geographic

Help for Helmeted Hornbills

Conservation of individual species is difficult, especially when cultural beliefs are tied to the use of their body parts. But according to the National Geographic article:

“One of the working group’s goals is to train enforcement officers in the parts of Indonesia where helmeted hornbills are poached the most. Another is to establish community-based conservation programs in Indonesia and demand-reduction programs in China.”

Saving this “weirdo” (as some conservationists have called the odd-looking bird) goes beyond reasons of diversity and interestingness. The birds are a major source of seed distribution in the forests they live.

Read the full article: These Rare Birds Are Being Slaughtered for Their ‘Ivory’

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