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.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Better protection sought for Thailand's helmeted hornbill

OCTOBER 11, 2019

by Busaba Sivasomboon

Time is running out for Thailand's dwindling population of helmeted hornbills thanks to poaching of the exotic birds for the ivory-like casques atop their big red and yellow beaks.

The species, known by the scientific name Rhinoplax vigil, is listed as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"Currently, there are fewer than 100 of the birds in Thailand's forests," says Dr. Kaset Sutacha, chairman of the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and head of the Exotic Pet and Wildlife Clinic at Kasetsart University's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bangkok.

"Critically endangered" is just a step away from "extinct in the wild" and two steps from becoming considered "extinct."

Demand from China is helping drive demand for their distinctive casques, "helmets" in French, which males deploy in battle. The material is used to make rings, pendants and other decorative items.

Worries over the species' survival intensified after the wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC recently posted photos online of dozens of skulls of the endangered avian for sale.

A campaign on the online petition site is pressuring the government to add the bird to Thailand's Wildlife Preservation List as soon as possible. It now lists 19 other species.

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