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Rare hornbill finds refuge at Yangon zoo
Source : Myanmar Times View Count : 300
Feb 25, 2020
Conservationists rescued a rare hornbill that had been roaming listlessly through Yangon for several days and provided the bird a home at the Yangon Zoological Gardens.

The female bird, considered one of the most threatened species in the world, had a rope tied around its leg and an injury to one of its wings, apparently caused by a struggle to break free from its bonds.

Conservationists said there are only a few thousand hornbills in the wild across the globe, mostly on the Malay Peninsula, in Sumatra and Borneo.

The bird is hunted for its casque ivory, which is a valuable carving material. The casque, which is a helmet-like structure on its head, accounts for about 11 percent of the bird’s 3-kilogram weight.

On Sunday, several wildlife lovers and personnel from the Fire Services Department, the zoo and Forestry Department spent the whole day chasing the bird around the city to ensure that it would be placed in a safe location.

"It was held in a cage for a long time and it doesn't know how to find food on its own,” an official said.

The hornbill was finally captured in East Dagon.

The bird is on the government’s list of protected species, which means no one is allowed to own or hold it in captivity.

Daw Thiri Dawei Aung, a bird expert and research and conservation director of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, said smugglers still capture hornbills as they can sell them as pets.

According to Birdlife International (Asia), hornbills are a low-density species, even in prime habitat, where it plays an important ecological role in seed dispersal. It tends to be absent in disturbed forests, peat swamps, and coastal forests, and has the most specialized diet and nest requirements of any hornbill.

Of particular concern to the bird’s survival are habitat loss and degradation caused by logging of large living trees, which provide the best nesting and feeding sites for the species.

A survey of the helmeted hornbill, the first of its kind in the country, also found six other hornbill species in southern Myanmar. Great hornbills and oriental pied hornbills make their nests in large trees in thickly forested areas of the country.

TOP IMAGE: The lost hornbill rests in her new home in Yangon zoo. Photo - Dr. Myint Thein
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