Hornbills can thrive in urban Singapore

Straits Times Forum 6 Apr 09;

WE REFER to the ST Online letter, "Have we done homework on hornbills?" (March 28).

Hornbills play an ecological role in the germination of trees with large seeds, and the sustainability of our forests depend on these large birds.

With this in mind, the Singapore Hornbill Project was undertaken in 2004 to enhance the population and distribution of the Oriental Pied Hornbill, a native species of Singapore. The success in using artificial nests on Pulau Ubin has facilitated the spread of these hornbills on mainland Singapore.

Besides the Oriental Pied Hornbill, the Rhinoceros Hornbill is the other native hornbill of Singapore.

There is a lone female Rhinoceros Hornbill in the Bukit Timah area and our intention is to find it a male partner to facilitate their breeding in the wild.

We are aware of the need to ensure that the sub-species of hornbill is compatible, and are working with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to analyse the DNA of the female Rhinoceros and other hornbills that are considered for a release.

Given the success of the Singapore Hornbill Project, we believe that hornbills can thrive in urban Singapore.

There are natural tree cavities around the nature reserves that the hornbills can use for nesting. Artificial nests have also been installed as they are a tried-and-tested method, in other countries as well, for assisting hornbills to breed.

Poaching is illegal and we will continue to endeavour to do our part to enhance the native wildlife and apprehend any poachers. We also hope that the public will help to report any poaching activities to us should they come across them.

We agree that public education is important to bring awareness of Singapore's amazing biodiversity and that it can thrive if everyone plays a role in conserving it.

We thank the writer for his feedback and welcome him to contact us on 1800-4717300 (toll-free) or e-mail nparks_mailbox@nparks.gov.sg should he have any more queries regarding the research project.

The Singapore Hornbill Project:

Dr Geoffrey Davison
Assistant Director (Terrestrial)
National Parks Board

Biswajit Guha
Assistant Director (Zoology),
Singapore Zoo
Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Marc Cremades
CVM Pte Ltd


  1. Hi, I thought you might be interested to know that we spotted an oriental pied hornbill in a flowering tree at our condo which is just off River Valley Road opposite Mohamed Sultan (The Imperial). It was in the tree for a little while and then flew away. Sorry, no pics.

  2. Thanks for sharing the sighting. It must have been a nice encounter!

  3. I live on Wilkie Road/ Mount Emily, and most mornings before 8am I see an adult hornbill hopping around on my opposite neighbour's balcony. Yesterday morning, I also spotted a pair on hornbills perched on the roof antenna of Hangout@Mt Emily building.

  4. I just saw one at Cantonment Road / Yan Kit Road during lunch break :)

  5. Sighted 3 Pied Hornbills near the MOE Heritage Centre around Commonwealth MRT. Sighted them 2 days in a row. Hope they find a suitable nest there so we can see them more often.

  6. Sighted 2 oriental pied hornbills today too at Rochester park main road close to buona vista! They were sharing their food and taking shelter from tree to tree. For twice, one of them swooped down to get food and we had a pretty close encounter with it. Was a great experience! :)

  7. There is a hornbill roosting RIGHT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW tonight!!! What an honour!
    I'm on the 3rd floor of an HDB block right next to Sungai Api-Api in PasirRis and the tree branches almost touch my windows. This fella is happily sleeping on one of the branches. How cute! I can see it at eye level.