Western Ghats

Hornbill hotspots

Hornbill distribution and conservation threats

Hornbills are giants among the forest birds: bizarre, spectacular, awe-inspiring. They also play essential roles in forest ecosystems as dispersers of seeds of forest plants. Yet, many hornbills are today threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and loss of large trees that they need for feeding and nesting.

A diversity of 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 the widely distributed but endangered Great Hornbill. India also has one species that has one of the smallest ranges of any hornbill: the Narcondam Hornbill, found only on the island of Narcondam.

Besides intensive studies of hornbills in the Anamalai hills, we have also carried out surveys for hornbills across the Western Ghats, and a survey in Narcondam Island. Our research on hornbills has focused on the following aspects:

  • Studies on the ecology and breeding biology of hornbills in the Anamalai hills
  • Effects of rainforest fragmentation on hornbills in the Anamalai hills
  • Survey of hornbills and endemic birds in wildlife protected areas and Reserved Forests along the Western Ghats
  • Survey of Narcondam Island and its endemic hornbill species