By John R. Platt | Takepart.com
January 27, 2015 4:40 PM
The poaching of elephants and rhinos gets a lot of well-deserved media attention, but the widespread slaughter of another species is flying under the radar.
According to an undercover operation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), poachers are increasingly targeting a rare bird called the helmeted hornbill. The beaks of these Southeast Asian birds are then carved into jewelry and trinkets and sold in China where they fetch prices five times higher than elephant ivory.
“The trade is definitely increasing, especially so in recent years,” said an EIA investigator who spoke anonymously out of fear for his safety. He reports that the quantity of helmeted hornbill products observed for sale “far exceeds published sightings of live helmeted hornbills in the wild.” All of the sales are illegal under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species and various national laws.