Hunting and habitat loss have been identified as important factors affecting hornbills throughout their range in Asia. Hornbills, as compared to other birds, naturally occur in low densities and are slow breeders, which make them extremely vulnerable to hunting, and habitat loss which results in loss of breeding individuals from the population and loss of nesting sites respectively.
Since 2003, Eastern Himalaya program has been actively conducting research and monitoring of hornbills in Arunachal Pradesh. Aspects of hornbill biology were studied in Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve from 1995-2000. Pakke is a haven for hornbills in North-east India, a region where hunting and habitat loss threatens most hornbill species. The Nyishi (a dominant tribal community) use the upper beak/casque of the Great hornbill in their traditional headgear, the fat for its purported medicinal value and also consume the meat. Since 2002, due to increased support from the Nyishi community living around Pakke and the protection efforts by the park management under the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department, hornbills have a better chance to survive here. Hunting has declined, however, threats remain due to deforestation in the foothill forests which are crucial habitats for hornbill nesting and roosting. Our long-term monitoring of hornbill nests suggests that there is increased direct competition for nest sites between hornbill species due to limited availability of nest sites. There is also a decline in hornbill numbers seen at some key roost sites which are vulnerable to disturbance. Our monitoring effort has been restricted to about 30-40 nests each year due to limitations of staff and funding. There is a need to continue monitoring of hornbill nests and roosts and expand the monitoring effort to a larger area especially to areas outside the park where hornbill nesting habitat is under threat. The best way to do this is to seek the wider participation and help of the Nyishi community living in the nearby villages who have banned hunting throughout the year and are assisting the park authorities in protection of wildlife. The Ghora-Aabhe (a council of village headmen) was formed in 2006 with the support of a pro-active park management who are spearheading protection and awareness efforts. Pakke WS has seen a remarkable turnaround with erstwhile hunters now becoming protectors. The villagers support for conservation is doubly amazing as they face hardships due to crop-raiding by elephants and have limited livelihood options.
Therefore, by seeking the participation and involvement of Nyishi villagers in helping find, watch and look after hornbill nests and roosts, which would serve the dual purpose of long-term monitoring and protection for research and conservation, we aim to provide income and additional funds to the village community in their protection efforts. Dr. Pilai Poonswad of the Hornbill Research Foundation first initiated a similar successful hornbill nest adoption program in southern Thailand. In pursuing these goals, sustainable long-term funding is extremely crucial and therefore we seek your valuable contribution.
Nests of four hornbill species are available for adoption:
1) Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
2) Wreathed Hornbill Rhyticeros undulatus
3) Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis
4) Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Aims of this program:
1. To monitor and protect long-term hornbill populations in the area.
2. To assist the villagers in their efforts to conserve hornbills and other wildlife in the area.
3. To collect ecological data on hornbills for research and conservation.
How can you help?
By donating money for long-term nest monitoring and protection of hornbill nests by villagers, 2) by volunteering to help find and watch hornbill nests with villagers during the breeding season and, 3) by telling others about this program.
What your contribution will be used for?
Those who are interested in the adoption of a family/families of hornbills will be responsible for expenses. The payments will be spent on 1) hiring villagers to monitor and protect hornbills in the wild, 2) initiating a village welfare fund which will be used to assist the Ghora-aabhe in protection efforts and village development activities and 3) collect scientific data for the Hornbill Nest Monitoring Program of the Nature Conservation Foundation.
The adoption rate per hornbill family per year is Rs. 5000 per year or US $125 per year. Your monetary contribution would be tax-exempt.
What you will receive?
You will receive an annual report on the nesting activity from the pair of hornbills that have been adopted, details about the adopted hornbills, location and characteristics of the tree in which the nest is located, accompanied by photographs of the actual nest tree.
We will send information on the Nyishi villagers who are responsible for monitoring the nests.
Note: The breeding season lasts from March (nest entry by hornbill female) to August (female and chick emergence). Reports will be sent at the end of the year after all information has been processed. Applications received after the breeding season will be used for the next year.
2. Should you wish to visit Pakke to see the hornbills you adopt, Pakke Tours and Travels (newly established by members of the Ghora-Aabhe) can organize to bring you to the site at your own expenses. You can stay at the newly-built Pakke Jungle eco-camp, a community-run tourism enterprise by members of the Ghora-Aabhe. However, there will be a limit on visitor numbers.
3. An indirect benefit is your opportunity to contribute to the conservation of Arunachal Pradesh’s valuable natural resources. You will also able to watch hornbills and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve and surrounding reserve forests in East Kameng district, western Arunachal Pradesh. Visit www.pakketigerreserve.org for more information on Pakke WS