As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 4 August 2017

The Hornbill Hunters of Sumatra

Posted on August 1, 2017By Gregory McCann

Slaughter of magnificent birds in a contradictory culture

In 2011, a Taiwanese businessman named Hsien arrived in Indonesia with a plan to make himself rich and in the process to systematically wipe out one of the world’s most majestic and rarest birds, the helmeted hornbill, Rhinoplax vigil, also known as the “King Hornbill”  in the provinces of Kalimantan and Sumatra.

He has made considerable progress. According to an article on the website Borneo Features titled “Planning a Path to Perdition,” middlemen were recruited to put out the word that there was someone willing to pay US$10 for the head of one helmeted hornbill. Over the next year, according to the article, the middlemen hired a network of people using cars, buses, motorcycles and boats, heading up the great rivers of Borneo, the Barito, Mahakam, Kapuas. In the interior of this vast island, they spent time talking to villagers, telling them they would come every three months to collect, and leaving their telephone numbers, no questions asked.” “I will come here every three months to collect.” “This is my phone number. You can call me if you have a good stock ready for collection, say at least 50 heads.”
Prices have skyrocketed since then, and the organized network of villagers hunting Helmeted Hornbills has expanded throughout all of Sumatra as well as Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand—the entire range for the species.

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