Conservationists have called on the forest department to identify roosting and nesting sites of the Great hornbill ( Buceros bicornis) in the Nilgiris and ensure their protection.
Recently, around 40-50 members of the species were spotted at an undisclosed location along the Kil Kotagiri slopes. S. Moinudheen, an independent researcher from the Nilgiris, said that the habitats of the species in the Nilgiris were primarily located at the interface between reserve forests and private plantations, making the species susceptible to anthropogenic pressures in the Nilgiris.
“The species is classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as ‘vulnerable’ and most of the habitats of the species are located along Coonoor, Manjoor and Kotagiri in altitudes below 1,500 meters above sea level in the Nilgiris,” he said.
Due to the nesting and roosting sites of the species being located in close proximity to human settlements, researchers and naturalists have called on the forest department to conduct detailed studies that will ensure the protection of the species.
Kannan Ramaiah, a naturalist who has been recording the species in Kil Kotagiri for the last few years said that this year, due to good rains and an abundance of food in the region, that there had been more birds than had been the case in previous years. “Unfortunately, this has also meant that the species has become more visible to amateur photographers, many of whom throng the site in search of the birds,” he said, adding that the amount of vehicular traffic had also increased in the region.
He stated that he had noted that these amateur photographers were using bird calls to entice the birds to certain locations to get pictures. “This is highly unethical and could potentially lead to birds choosing not to nest in these areas,” he added.
“With festivals coming up in the next few months, the sites where the hornbills nest and roost should be identified, and surrounding villages also sensitized to minimize the impact from human communities on the species,” he said.