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Important Facts For Prelims

Save Hornbills, Save Tropical Forests

Star marking (1-5) indicates the importance of topic for CSE
  • 22 Oct 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Scientists from two organisations studied how fruiting plants and hornbills influenced each other’s distribution in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • The study strengthens the argument that hornbills are gardeners or farmers of the forest, demonstrating that they farm their own food-rich patches through their seed dispersal.

Key Points

  • About the Study:
    • Hornbills have a symbiotic relationship with several canopy trees in tropical forests. In the longer term, this likely creates orchards that continue attracting hornbills.
    • The study shows that forest patches that have rare trees like Canarium, attract hornbills in large numbers (for food). In turn, hornbills end up dispersing seeds of a diverse array of plant species in higher numbers in these patches.
  • Hornbills:
    • About: The hornbills (Family Bucerotidae) are a family of birds found in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia.
    • In India: India is home to nine species of hornbills.
      • The northeastern region has the highest diversity of hornbill species within India.
      • They are the cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
      • The Hornbill festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas.
    • Threats:
      • Hornbills are hunted for their casques - upper beak - and feathers for adorning headgear. They are also poached for their meat and medicinal value of their body parts.
        • A conservation programme promoting the use of fibre-glass beaks for headgear instead of real hornbill casques has helped reduce some threat to it.
      • Illegal logging i.e. cutting of tall trees where the hornbill birds nest and feed has led to destruction of its natural habitat.

India’s 9 Hornbill Species

The Great Hornbill

  • Habitat: Western Ghats and Himalayas. Largest of all hornbills in India, state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972: Schedule I

Rufous-necked Hornbill

  • Habitat: It has the Northernmost extent. Whole of North-East India to Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal.
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I

Wreathed Hornbill

  • Habitat: North-East India.
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix II

Narcondam Hornbill

  • Habitat: Endemic to the Indian island of Narcondam in Andamans.
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • WPA, 1972: Schedule I

Malabar Pied Hornbill

  • Habitat: Evergreen and moist deciduous forests in India and Sri Lanka.
  • IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
  • CITES: Appendix II.

Oriental Pied Hornbill

  • Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II

Austen’s Brown Hornbill

  • Habitat: Forests of North East India, majorly in Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
  • CITES: N/A

Malabar Grey Hornbill

  • Habitat: Western Ghats.
  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
  • CITES: N/A

Indian Grey Hornbill

  • Habitat: Foothills of Southern Himalayas.
  • IUCN Red List: Least Concern
  • CITES: N/A

Namdapha National Park

  • About: It was declared a National Park in 1983. In the same year, it was also declared as a Tiger Reserve.
  • Geography:
    • It lies at the international border between India and Myanmar in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Namdapha is surrounded by the Patkai hills to the south and south-east and by the Himalaya in the north.
    • Namdapha is in fact the name of a river originating in the Park and it meets Noa-Dehing river. The Noa-Dehing river, is a tributary of the Brahmaputra and flows in a North-South direction in the middle of the National Park.
  • Climate: Enjoys the sub-tropical climate. The mountainous part has a mountain type of climate while the low lying plains and valleys experience tropical climate.
  • Vegetation: The vegetation is characteristic of tropical evergreen forests (Tropical Rain Forests).
  • Fauna:
    • It is the only park in the World to have the four species of big cat namely the Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard.
    • A number of primate species such as Assamese macaque, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque.
    • Hoolock Gibbons, the only ‘ape’ species found in India is found in this National Park.
    • Of the many other important animals are the elephants, black bear, Indian Bison, and a variety of arboreal animals.
    • Among the bird species, most notable are the White winged Wood Ducks, a rare and endangered species. It is also home to 5 out of 9 species of Hornbill including the great Indian hornbill.

Source: DTE

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