BANGKOK: Time is running out for Thailand’s dwindling population of helmeted hornbills, thanks to poaching of the exotic birds for the ivory-like casques atop their big red and yellow beaks.
The species, also known as Rhinoplax vigil, is listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Currently, there are fewer than 100 of the birds in Thailand’s forests, ” said Dr Kaset Sutacha, chairman of the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and head of the Exotic Pet and Wildlife Clinic at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.
Demand from China is helping drive the pursuit of their distinctive casques, which are used to make decorative items.
Worries over their survival intensified after the wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic recently posted photos online of dozens of skulls of the endangered avian for sale.
A campaign on change.org is pressuring the government to add the bird to Thailand’s Wildlife Preservation List as soon as possible.The bird is already on Thailand’s official list of protected animals, but would get much better protection if it is included in the Wildlife Preservation List, Kaset said.
That “means we can get money, officers and tools from the government, including a national conservation plan designed just for this species”. — AP