Helmeted hornbills are benefiting – directly and indirectly – from the work of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and its partners in Southeast Asia.
In Sumatra’s Kerinci Seblat National Park, the anti-poaching and forest protection activities of FFI-led tiger protection teams are having a tangible impact on illegal wildlife trade and deforestation, disrupting the trafficking networks that deal not only in tigers and timber, but also in pangolin scales and helmeted hornbill ‘ivory’.
Close collaboration with the park authorities and provincial police departments has led to improved law enforcement, including coordinated action to counter the activities of organised illegal wildlife trade syndicates and the kingpin traders driving wildlife and forest crime in and around Sumatra’s largest protected area.
In 2018, the project team recorded a substantial downturn in illegal wildlife trade demand, and fragmentation of what used to be tightly knit poach-to-order syndicates. Black market prices for helmeted hornbill and other wildlife have fallen, and there is evidence that traders are no longer willing to fund hornbill hunting gangs. Opportunistic poaching of helmeted hornbills continues, but there are encouraging signs that the pressure applied by FFI and its partners is one of the contributory factors in the substantial reduction in criminal activity compared to recent years.
On the neighbouring island of Borneo, the Conservation Leadership Programme – in which FFI is a leading partner – is supporting a team of Malaysian conservationists who are addressing the shortage of natural nest cavities that can accommodate hornbills – the result of widespread logging, particularly of the largest trees.
Nest boxes have been erected in the most promising locations, and rhinoceros and wrinkled hornbills are among the species that have already been observed using or checking out these artificial sites. The team hopes that continual improvements in the design of the boxes will encourage more birds – including helmeted hornbills – to use them.