So how are the Hornbills doing?
In the Kinabatangan we see the hornbills pretty much every dawn and dusk, travelling in pairs and sometimes up to six pairs! However, this is usually the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), which is not globally threatened.
We realised that actually we know very little about the hornbills in terms of their distribution, abundance and conservation status within the Kinabatangan area.
And the fact that the Kinabatangan is very much a secondary forest (has been logged before), we do not have many large trees left and this is the type of tress primarily used by hornbills for breeding. If they are not many of these trees left maybe the hornbills are not doing so well.
Because of this in November 2009, HUTAN – KOCP initiated, with the support of the Chester Zoo and the Woodland Park Zoo, a preliminary assessment of the Kinabatangan hornbill populations through a region wide villagers’ interview survey. Hornbills are also an important feature of Kinabatangan folklore and villagers have an in-depth knowledge of hornbills’ characteristics and behaviours.
With our partners, we first produced a brochure “Hornbills of Borneo” in both English and Malay languages presenting basic information and pictures of the eight hornbill species found in the Kinabatangan. A total of 5,000 copies of the brochure were printed which were used as an opening during the villagers’ interview surveys and during environmental awareness programs by HUTAN – KOCP.
The primary goal of these intreviews was to use local environmental knowledge to collect information about the status of hornbill populations in Kinabatangan. The interviews were designed to focus on the following three major objectives:
- To raise awareness about the ecological function of these birds and about the need to preserve them.
- To determine how to build effective and local conservation efforts to support the species of concern.
- To learn more about the current status of the Kinabatangan hornbill populations by using local environmental knowledge.
The study was conducted over a span of two years before we produced our findings in a report entitled Hornbills of the Kinabatangan Interviews with Local Community in 2011.