Be a hornbill parent

Art for a cause  

Visual artist Mallika Prakash, based in San Francisco, has created ‘Art for Hornbills’ an art exhibition and sale featuring hornbills. Its organised in collaboration with several artists to raise awareness on hornbill conservation in Bengaluru this weekend.

Know your hornbill

Hornbills are known as the ‘farmers of the forest’ as they eat fruits and disperse seeds far and wide helping the trees spread. During the breeding season, the female hornbill finds a suitable cavity inside the trunk of a large tree to lay eggs in. Unfortunately, nest trees are cut down for timber and the birds themselves are often hunted. Hornbills have large beaks and some species have an ornamental structure called ‘casque’ on their heads, which looks a bit like a helmet.

Members of the Nyishi community, who reside in the forests around Pakke Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh), use the beak and casque of hornbills, especially the Great Hornbill, in their traditional headgear; besides, they also eat the meat and use the fat. Hornbills are hunted in some areas while they are losing their forest habitat rapidly. A community-focussed conservation programme around the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Western Arunachal Pradesh however gives some hope for the hornbills’ future. The Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), an NGO based in Mysore and Bangalore, started the Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme (HNAP) in Arunachal Pradesh in 2011 to protect hornbills and their nest trees. NCF partners with the Ghora-Aabhe Society (a Nyishi community institution) and the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department. There are four hornbill species in the area - the Great hornbill, Wreathed hornbill, Rufous-necked hornbill and the Oriental Pied hornbill. The program has followed a two-step approach, wherein the Nyishi nest protectors find, monitor and protect hornbill nests and roosts; while people far away ‘adopt’ ests and contribute financially towards providing income and other benefits to members of the Nyishi community to look after hornbills.

Four years on, the HNAP has led to the protection of 33 hornbill nest trees and successful fledging of 60 hornbill chicks by members of the Nyishi community, some of whom were formerly hunting the birds. What started with three nest protectors from two villages in 2011 has expanded to an operation involving 17 nest protectors from 14 villages and around 150 urban donors.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 4:59:35 AM |

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