Hornbills | UPSC
Forest loss threatens hornbills
WHY IN NEWS:
Study based on satellite imagery was published in forest journal
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Flora and Fauna
For PRELIMS go through IUCN status , diversity and the maps of forest reserve in this article .
For MAINS collect all the major initiatives and the festivals associated with Hornbills .
- Hornbills are large and wide-ranging birds and most species are dependent on tropical forest habitats that contain large and tall trees.
- As they mostly eat fruits, a diversity of native forest tree and liana species are needed to provide their year-round requirements.
India has nine hornbill species, of which four are found in the Western Ghats:
- Indian Grey Hornbill (endemic to India)
- The Malabar Grey Hornbill (endemic to the Western Ghats)
- Malabar Pied Hornbill (endemic to India and Sri Lanka) and
- Widely distributed but endangered Great Hornbill.
- Hornbills pair for life and return each year to nest in the same tree.
- Before nesting, the male offers the female a food gift and takes her to the nest site, a natural hole in the side of a tree or cliff face.
- Larger species lay only two eggs, but smaller species may lay as many as eight eggs.
- Incubation varies according to species, but lasts for between 23 and 46 days.
- About 6-7 weeks after the chicks hatch, the female breaks the wall of the nest, and from then on helps the male with feeding the young.
- Depending on the species, the young fledge after 42 – 137 days.
- The smaller species are adults after a year and larger species after 3-6 years.
- Hornbills can live up to the age of around 20 years.
CONFLICTS AND HABITAT
- Using fine-scale satellite imagery, a trio of ecologists assessed the changes in forest cover of the 1,064 sq.km.
- Papum Reserve Forest (RF) adjoining the Pakke Tiger Reserve as well as a part of Assam affected by illegal felling and ethnic conflict.
- Papum RF is a nesting habitat of three species of the large, colourful fruit-eating hornbills: Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied.
- From 2013-2017 where forest cover declined to 76% of the total RF area.
- The loss and degradation of critical hornbill habitat is seen in the biologically rich forests of the Indian Eastern Himalaya.
- The ecologists assessed the habitat loss due to illegal logging within a 1 km radius around 29 hornbill nest trees.
- Illegal logging, however, has however led to fewer tall trees where the birds nest.
- Many species are classified as Of Least Concern, Vulnerable or Near threatened.
- The Narcondam hornbill, and the Visayan hornbill are classifed as Endangered.
- The rufous-headed hornbill and the Sulu hornbill are classified as Critically Endangered.
- While the protected areas such as Pakke are better guarded, the forests are often under pressure due to agricultural expansion, conversion to plantations or logging.
- According to the Global Forest Watch 2020 report, the State lost 1,110 sq.km. of primary forest from 2002-2019.
- Many Hornbills and other Bucerotiformes are relatively large forest birds and require large expanses of forest, with many old trees for nesting – in order to maintain a viable breeding population.
- While tropical rainforests are being felled at 95 square miles per day – to supply the first world with pretty doors, furniture, scaffolding and disposable chopsticks.
The future is not terribly secure for any Hornbill or other large forest resident.