Saving Hornbills in the Philippines
Hornbills with their immense and colourful bills exemplify the mystics of the tropical rainforests. These huge birds breed in holes of giant trees and show a fascinating breeding behaviour: as protection against predators the female is being sealed into the nesting hole by the male, and the male provides her with food all through the breeding period. Unfortunately, several hornbill species have become much endangered. Around the year 2000 only some 100 Visayan Wrinkled Hornbills and no more than 1500 Visayan Tarictic Hornbills may have survived on only two islands in the Philippines. Extensive loss of forests, and with it the trees that offer that offer nesting holes have resulted in dramatic population declines. Hornbills distribute the seeds of the fruits they fed on and consequently their population decline slows down reforestation. Additionally, hunting poses a serious threat to the last remaining hornbills because locally their flesh is valued as a delicacy.
Only few Wrinkled Hornbills (Aceros waldeni) and Tarictics (Penelopides panini) are legally held in captivity. In two rescue centres conservationists make increasingly successful efforts to breed confiscated animals of both species. These rescue centres urgently need to be enlarged and veterinarian care has to be assured. Cooperation projects with local people aim to preserve the natural habitat and to protect the last free-ranging hornbills. Conservation of the rainforest also benefits the local human inhabitants: sustainable use provides a long-term supply of resources as well as ecological and climate stability. Therefore education campaigns informing local people about these benefits also play a significant role in the project.
The hornbills conservation project focuses on:
- Enlargement of two rescue centres on the islands Panay and Negros, and establishing a viable population of both hornbill species in captivity
- Assurance of qualified captive and veterinarian care
- Supporting the efforts to protect the last forest areas in Panay
- Environmental education of the local population on the value of their natural heritage and sustainable use of rainforest resources
- Monitoring of free-ranging hornbill populations
The improved housing conditions led to a milestone in saving the critically endangered Visayan Wrinkled Hornbills: the world first captive breeding in 2005. Since then successful breeding occurs regularly, so the release of the offspring might be realized in near future.
Fortunately the free-living population of Visayan Wrinkled Hornbills increased, too, to several hundred individuals due the successful nest protection scheme by the Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Projekt led by Prof. Curio.
"The toucan helps!" - Niehoffs Vaihinger Fruchtsäfte GmbH supports the conservation project
The conservation project for the hornbills was supported by Niehoffs Vaihinger Fruchtsäfte GmbH between 2004 and 2006. With this support following things could be financed:
- Construction of new aviaries
- Design and construction of new nesting boxes, which are copied from original hornbill-nests in trees
- Monitoring of nests and nesting boxes via video, to prevent disturbing the breeding birds
- Construction of food production facilities
- Expert assistance and provision of local personnel training
- First participation of Philippine experts at the International Hornbill Conference in November 2005
- Protection of Hornbill nests in the wild against poaching
- Identification of potential future reintroduction sites in Panay, Negros and Cebu in 2005 and 2006
The protection of Philippine Hornbills goes on!
The first steps are done. The permanent conservation of these magnificent birds, however, is not yet secured. Therefore, Stiftung Artenschutz will continue its engagement in the protection of the Philippine Hornbills.