Sep 27

A Home for the Hornbills

by Staff

Deforestation has affected our world in many ways. Most of us are now aware of its role in global warming and how it affects our world as a whole – but few think about its impact on even the smallest of creatures. In the dry lowland rainforests of Sumatra, six Sumatran hornbill species have been designated as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN Red List due to the loss of their forest habitat.

Hornbill sitting in a tree in the rainforest Hornbills use tree holes for nesting - but are unable to excavate their own nests and therefore must rely on existing holes. Since Asian hornbills are large-bodied, they require large, mature trees for adequately sized cavities. Unfortunately logging operations also prefer to target these large trees. This presents a dilemma for the beleaguered birds. Even where forest quality can provide sufficient food for them, their populations may still decline due to low numbers of appropriate nesting sites.

Luckily, the Harapan Rainforest is the first site to be managed for forest restoration - with the goal of returning it to its original condition. In order to give the hornbills back their places of shelter, a non-profit organization as begun placing nest boxes in many of the trees. Local community members also join in nest searching and monitoring, and seed dispersal studies to help the project better understand the role hornbills play in forest regeneration.

2009 was the first year that the Fund supported this project and believes that the valuable knowledge gained from its efforts will eventually guide future restoration projects across the globe.