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
- Popular Article2016Hornbills: the feathered foresters.Mudappa, D. 2016. JLR Explore, 15 May 2016.
Most of us are familiar with charismatic mammals such as tigers, elephants and apes. And there are charismatic species amongst birds too: bustards, cranes, eagles. But in the Asian and African tropics are birds that gain charisma from their large size, spectacular appearance, and extraordinary breeding habits: the hornbills.
- Popular Article2015Restoring the fabricSanctuary Asia, June 2015, 35(6): 53.
- Journal Article2013An expedition to Narcondam: observations of marine and terrestrial fauna including the island-endemic hornbill.Current Science 105: 346-360.
- Popular Article2012Islands in peril: Conservation caveats.The Hindu Magazine, Sunday 26 February 2012, page 4.
- Popular Article2012The feathered forestersSaevus 1(4, Sep/Oct): 28-33.
- Dataset2009Western Ghats Hornbill SurveyIndia Biodiversity Portal, Western Ghats bird transect layer http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
Data from Western Ghats Hornbills and endemic bird survey contributed to India Biodiversity Portal
Available here: http://indiabiodiversity.org/layer_info.php?layer_name=lyr_235_wg_birdtransects
- Journal Article2009A conservation status survey of hornbills (Bucerotidae) in the Western Ghats, India.Indian Birds 5: 90–102.
- Art & Literary2009Who gives a fig?The Hindu Magazine, 26 July 2009, page 5.
Trees are being slaughtered in large numbers in the face of urbanisation. A reflective piece on what is happening to our landscapes from a conservation perspective.
- Report2008Hornbills and endemic birds: a conservation status survey across the Western Ghats, India.NCF Technical Report No. 17, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.