We support hornbill breeding activities in the Kinabatangan to ensure that these magnificent birds will survive in the area.

Eight species of hornbills occur in Borneo: they are all found in the Kinabatangan.


Rhinoceros Hornbill - RH

Helmeted Hornbill - HH

Black Hornbill -BH

Oriental Pied Hornbill - OPH

Bushy-crested Hornbill - BH

Wreathed Hornbill - WEH

White-crowned Hornbill - WIH

Wrinkled Hornbill - WRH


Buceros rhinoceros

Rhinoplax vigil

Anthracoceros malayanus

Anthracoceros albirostris albirostris

Anorrhinus galeritus

Aceros undulatus

Aceros comatus

Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus


Near threatened

Critically endangered

Near threatened

Least concern

Least concern

Least concern

Near threatened

Critically endangered

Asian hornbills nest in natural cavities located in living trees. These birds are unable to excavate their own nest cavity and they depend on naturally-formed cavities for breeding. Large hornbill species need large cavities that are only found in large, mature trees. However, the past extensive logging activities have removed or killed most of the large trees in the Kinabatangan area. As a result, the birds who are living in the floodplain now face severe challenges, due to the lack of suitable breeding sites.

In 2013, HUTAN decided to install artificial nests for hornbills in the forests of Kinabatangan. With the assistance of several zoo partners, we have erected more than 20 artificial nests over the past few years. Our monitoring shows that it will take a few years before the birds start using the artificial nest boxes. Our data also indicate that the birds may prefer artificial nests made with plastic drums rather than wood. Over the past three years, three artificial nest boxes have been used successfully by rhinoceros (5 times) and bushy crested (1 time) hornbills.

Two local researchers are working full-time on hornbill protection and monitoring. Their activities are supervised and supported by both HUTAN and GAIA, a Malaysian NGO run by Ravinder Kaur and Sanjitpaal Singh. The research team is monitoring the breeding status of various species in Kinabatangan, including a natural nest that is regularly used by a couple of helmeted hornbills. This species is increasingly rare because of the trade for its cask, also called “red ivory”. Ravinder just completed her PhD thesis studying hornbill breeding ecology in Kinabatangan.