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.

Monday 10 September 2018

An international plan to save the Helmeted Hornbill

31 Aug 2018

Illegal hunting and trade has brought this unique hornbill to the brink. But an new ten-year, range-wide conservation plan will ensure the Helmeted Hornbill has a future outside of China's markets
Conservation organizations from across the world have developed an ambitious ten-year plan to save a Critically Endangered bird that has been driven to the brink of extinction by illegal hunting.
The Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil has declined sharply in recent years, following soaring demand for its striking red casque – which uniquely among hornbills is solid, and can be carved into decorative artifacts, for which there is huge demand in China.
Currently, a single casque can fetch more than $1,000 on the black market, a price higher than that of ivory. Organized crime networks became involved in the bird’s hunting and trade, and as a result of this unsustainable demand, the Helmeted Hornbill’s numbers have plummeted such that the species was uplisted from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered (the highest possible category) in our 2015 reassessment of the species’ extinction risk.
The Hornbill is found in the forests of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Brunei. It is seldom seen, but once spotted is very distinctive, with a wrinkled naked throat, yellow beak, and large red casque for which it is both named and hunted.
Helmeted Hornbills are largely threatened in their habitat by local hunters, who are recruited by organized criminal gangs. In their effort to secure a Helmeted Hornbill, these hunters will shoot down nearly every large hornbill, hoping that it will turn out to be Helmeted. Once killed, the Hornbill heads are smuggled to ports in Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra, and are then most likely transported to  Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

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