About– Hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They get their name from the horn-like structure on the top of their beak—the casque.
- Globally, Hornbill distribution is limited to Sub-Saharan Africa, Indian-Subcontinent, Philippines, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.
- In India, they are found in the Western Ghats and the northeastern states.
Habitat– Great hornbills inhabit the canopy of tall evergreen forests.
Diet: Hornbills are one of the biggest frugivores (fruit-eating birds) in the Asian rainforest. Around 40-70% of their diet consists of large ficus fruits, figs, drupes and berries, usually red or black in colour.
Conservation status: India is home to 9 species of Hornbill. All species except the Oriental pied hornbill are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
These species are:
- Indian Grey Hornbill (Least Concern)
- Malabar Grey Hornbill (Vulnerable)
- Malabar Pied Hornbill (Near Threatened)
- Great Hornbill (Vulnerable); Also in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Narcondam Hornbill (Vulnerable) is found only in the Narcondam Island of Andaman Sea.
- Rufous-necked Hornbill (Vulnerable)
- Wreathed-Hornbill (Vulnerable)
- White-throated Hornbill (Near Threatened) and
- Oriental Pied Hornbill (Least Concern)
- Cultural Symbol: They are the cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
- Festival: The Hornbill Festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill, which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas.
- State Bird: Great Hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
- They also play essential roles in forest ecosystems as dispersers of seeds of forest plants.
- Many Hornbills are today threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and loss of large trees that they need for feeding and nesting.
- Hornbills are hunted for their casques — upper beak — and feathers for adorning headgear. They are also poached for their meat and medicinal value of their body parts.