Only 88 hornbills seen at forest reserve

Vulnerable species: A rare plain-pouched hornbill spotted at the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

Vulnerable species: A rare plain-pouched hornbill spotted at the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve.

IPOH: The number of plain-pouched hornbills sighted at the Temenggor forest reserve has dropped drastically from over 3,000 in 2008 to just 88 this month, possibly due to rampant logging activities.

Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) co-founder and chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said the vulnerable hornbills usually made their way from Thailand to the rainforest between July and early October.

On May 1, 2012, The Star reported that while 3,261 hornbills were recorded in 2008, the number dropped to below 100 in 2009 but rose to just below a thousand in 2010.

“The logging activity has somehow affected the flight path of these hornbills that travel through the Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary to the Royal Belum State Park, and the Temenggor Forest Reserve,” Andrew said in an interview.

“This amazing annual development is equivalent to the great migrations in Africa. It is happening right here in Perak, and therefore logging must be phased out in view of eco-tourism.”

Andrew added that the presence of these hornbills was an amazing eco-tourism product.

He said there were already nine resident species of hornbills found at the state park and at the forest reserve.

He added that even though the plain pouched hornbills were only at the park and forest reserve for three months, they were considered residents, making it the 10th resident species found there.

“This amazing phenomenon is poorly promoted.

“As a professional bird guide and eco-tourism facilitator, I have been organising surveys at the park.

“Recently (Sept 9 to 11), Ecomy organised an expedition, as we wanted to locate, record and promote the park as the hornbill capital of the world.

“A few photographers from Singapore also took part in the survey.

“However, we could only spot and officially document 88 hornbills,” he said, adding that they recorded 170 last year.

The plain-pouched hornbill (Enggang Rimba) is 81cm in length. The male usually has a yellow gular pouch, while the females have a blue gular pouch.

Some of these hornbills have also been recently sighted in Ulu Muda in Kedah.

The distribution of these hornbills are within Myanmar, Thailand and the Malay Peninsular (North).