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Chinese demand for ivory alternative, threatens rare Hornbill bird

Increased demand for alternative ivory in China has now threatened Hornbill, due to curb on illegal ivory trade of African elephant. So, Chinese effort provided safety to African elephant but on the other hand it ringed alarm bell for the rare helmeted Hornbill of South-East Asia, as the demand for the skull of Hornbill as alternative ivory has increased.

Helmeted Hornbill.jpg


Why it is in great demand in China?

  • Ivory like casque is often carved into ornaments and sold as “red ivory,” because of its color
  • China has joined the world in taking a stand against the trade in elephant and rhinoceros products, this has put pressure on less celebrated but threatened animals like helmeted hornbill

Helmeted Hornbill

  • It is a very large bird in the hornbillfamily, though it is not the largest Asian hornbill. It weighs a bit less than the Great hornbill of South & South-East Asia and considerably less than the African Ground hornbill.
  • It is found on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.
  • The casque accounts for some 11% of its 3 kg weight. Unlike any other hornbill, the casque is almost solid
  • This bird eats mostly fruit, especially figs.
  • Conservation status helmeted Hornbill:
  1. It is listed in Appendix I of CITES, that means it is threatened with extinction and trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  2. IUCN has reclassified it as “critically endangered,” up from “near threatened” three years earlier, in its Red Data Book. This was done on the recommendation of Bird Life International.

Great Hornbill

  • Also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill
  • It is one of the larger members of the Hornbill
  • It is found inSouth & South-East Asia.
  • Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
  • It is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
  • It is predominantly frugivorous, but is an opportunist and will prey on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  • Its casque is hollow and serves no known purpose
  • Conservation status of Great Hornbill:
  1. Due to habitat loss and hunting in some areas, the great hornbill is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. It is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
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