Malaysia: Hornbills put on IUCN's 'Red List'

FERNANDO FONG New Straits Times 6 Sep 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: HELMETED hornbills (Rhinoplax vigil) have been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

According to a Facebook posting by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) technical specialist on conservation Yeap Chin Aik, MNS’s proposed motion to conserve the helmeted hornbills had been approved by IUCN, with minor amendment after members voted to support it in an e-voting process early last month.

“Big thanks to my co-architect, Vina, of this motion from the Nature Society Singapore (NSS) and several BirdLife partner organisations and allies that supported the tabling of this motion.

To all who voted YES, a big thank you, too,” he wrote while in Hawaii to attend the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

He said since it was now an international agenda, countries with helmeted hornbills must drive its conservation and protection.

According to IUCN, the hornbill has been uplisted from “near threatened” to “critically endangered”, with decreasing population trend owing to severe hunting for its casque and habitat loss from logging and agricultural conversion.

The helmeted hornbills are described as mostly dark brown and white, with long central tail feathers and a distinctive high red casque that is yellow at the front.

The species is listed as being confined to the Sundaic lowlands, from south Tenasserim in Myanmar; Thailand; Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia; Singapore; Kalimantan and Sumatra in Indonesia; and, Brunei.

Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia chief executive officer Andrew J. Sebastian said that hornbills had been hunted for a long time, not only in Malaysia, but in other countries as well, notably in Thailand and Cambodia.

“Hornbill poaching had always been there. It’s just under the radar.”

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