Hornbill May Soon Soar In The Jungle Of Northern Thailand After 40 Years

Donald by Donald Hood

Published Thu, Jan 21st 2016, 10:30 | Environment

(1888 PressRelease) Research has been underway since June 2015 to determine if the colorful oriental pied hornbill can be successfully re-introduced into jungle one hour outside Chiang Mai, Thailand. The hornbill may soaring again in Mae Kampong under the supervision of Dr. Pilai Poonswad, founder the Hornbill Research Foundation at Mahidol University and Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Eco-adventure tours based there.

Brightly Colored Beak Of The Hornbill May Soon Soar In The Jungle Of Northern Thailand After 40 Years

The Oriental Pied Hornbill may be re-introduced into the jungle of northern Thailand as a result of a collaboration between the Hornbill Research Foundation of Mahidol University and Flight of the Gibbon, Southeast Asia's leading zipline eco-adventure tour. 

The hornbill (Antracoceros Albirostris) is most widely recognized for its brightly colored beak and spectacular swooping wing span. It has been 40 years since the hornbill prospered in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The Oriental Pied Hornbills are a keystone bird species which once thrived in Northern Thailand's tropical forests, dispersing the seeds of many tree species and thus ensuring continued food supplies for many other bird and mammal species. Hunting has largely wiped them out, although suitable forest remains or can be restored. 

Field work to determine if the hornbill could be re-introduced began in June, 2015. Dr. Pilai Poonswad, founder of the Hornbill Research Foundation at Mahidol University, and Mr. Demis Galli, Flight of the Gibbon's Director of Conservation, have spearheaded the project. Dr. Pilai Poonswad's work to save the hornbill started in 1978 and has been recognized worldwide. She has been called the "Great mother of the Hornbills". 

The Oriental Pied Hornbill is one of 14 hornbill species native to Thailand. It has been chosen for this program for its general hardiness and ability to nest in slightly adverse conditions. It is one of the most adaptable hornbill species in Thailand. The area being studied is just outside of the small village of Mae Kampong, 50km east of Thailand's second largest city Chiang Mai. Mae Kampong is the home of Chiang Mai's Flight of the Gibbon experience. Someday soon, visitors to Mae Kampong may be able to see this amazing bird in the wild soaring above and through the jungle canopy again.

"Hornbills have both ecological and symbolic importance. Restoring the population will not only help to secure survival of the species but it will also re-establish the forest's ecological balance. Symbolically, the return of this iconic bird species shows that losses of forests and wildlife can be reversed and there is hope for the future of northern Thailand's spectacular forest ecosystems", according to Dr. Stephen Elliot, Director of FORRU, The Forest Restoration Research Unit of Chiang Mai University.