Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Great Indian Hornbill


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hornbill

Mains level: NA

A study based on satellite data has flagged a high rate of deforestation in a major hornbill habitat in Arunachal Pradesh.

Try this PYQ:

Q. In which of the following regions of India are you most likely to come across the ‘Great Indian Hornbill’ in its natural habitat? (CSP 2016)

(a) Sand deserts of northwest India

(b) Higher Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir

(c) Salt marshes of western Gujarat

(d) Western Ghats

About Great Indian Hornbill

IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018), CITES: Appendix I

  • The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
  • The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
  • It is predominantly fruit-eating, but is an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  • Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
  • A large majority of their population is found in India with a significant proportion in the Western Ghats and the Nilgiris.
  • The nesting grounds of the birds in the Nilgiris North Eastern Range are also believed to support some of their highest densities.

Their ecological significance

  • Referred to as ‘forest engineers’ or ‘farmers of the forest’ for playing a key role in dispersing seeds of tropical trees, hornbills indicate the prosperity and balance of the forest they build nests in.


  • Hornbills used to be hunted for their casques — upper beak — and feathers for adorning headgear despite being cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Illegal logging has led to fewer tall trees where the bird’s nest.

Back2Basics: Hornbill Festival

  • The Hornbill Festival is a celebration held every year from 1 – 10 December, in Kohima, Nagaland.
  • The festival was first held in the year 2000.
  • It is named after the Indian hornbill, the large and colourful forest bird which is displayed in the folklore of most of the state’s tribes.
  • Festival highlights include the traditional Naga Morungs exhibition and the sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural medley – songs and dances, fashion shows etc.

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