With its ornate casque, the Helmeted Hornbill has historically been hunted and traded in Borneo. A recent surge in demand has led to rampant poaching, with an estimated 6,000 individuals killed in 2013 in West Kalimantan alone. Populations have declined drastically due to the increase in this illegal trade, and because of local dependence on these birds as part of communities’ daily survival. All seven hornbill species have been uplisted to Threatened on the IUCN Red List, with the Helmeted Hornbill now Critically Endangered and the most hunted hornbill in the world.
WORTH MORE ALIVE
Yoki’s team at Rangkong Indonesia are building on the success of their hornbill guardians programme to monitor birds and prevent poaching. To incentivise conservation, he will now develop a sustainable ecotourism model in the Kapuas Hulu Regency in West Kalimantan. Yoki will work with Dayak communities to establish birdwatching and ecotourism in the area; turning hunters into guardians. Using a responsible, well-managed and regulated framework, this programme will yield economic benefits for communities from the continued survival of the species, proving that hornbills are worth more alive.
Yoki and his team will also create a five-year ecotourism plan to secure the Helmeted Hornbill’s long-term survival. He will integrate these local initiatives into the broader governmental ecotourism development strategy for the area, which will further strengthen village-wide spatial planning and hornbill protection regulations in the heart of Borneo.
Yoki ANd his team will:
- Identify Helmeted Hornbill distribution patterns and ecotourism hotspots in the Sungai Utik Customary Forest and neighbouring areas that are well suited for this conservation model
- Develop a 5-year ecotourism plan to be implemented by 3 villages
- Train 100 people in ecotourism services such as bird watching, and build capacity among forest guardians to monitor hornbills and their nests
- Integrate village development plans into the wider governmental ecotourism development strategy
- The Helmeted Hornbill has a large portion of unique evolutionary history and is 26th on the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) birds list
- Helmeted Hornbills play an important role in forest regeneration as seed dispersers
- Its casque – a protuberance above its beak that can be carved into ornaments – is highly coveted in the illegal wildlife trade
“I strongly believe these communities have great potential as hornbill guardians.” – Yoki Hadiprakarsa
Image credits: Aristyawan C.A/INFIS (Yoki headshot), Aryf Rahman/Rangkong Indonesia (hornbill), Yoki Hadiprakarsa/Rangkong Indonesia (hornbill head), Khaerul Abdi/INFIS (team), Nanang Sujana/INFIS (landscape). Film credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Rangkong Indonesia, Tim Laman.
2022 CONTINUATION FUNDING
Community guardians of the Helmeted Hornbill
£70,000 over 2 years
The last decade has seen a drastic decline in Helmeted Hornbill numbers, as global demand for their ornate casques has led to a surge in poaching. In Indonesia, where the largest population remains, limited economic opportunities are driving local people to hunt the birds, despite having lived alongside them for generations. The Helmeted Hornbill is also very susceptible to natural limitations, such as the limited availability of nesting cavities, which are very susceptible to natural damage. Regrettably, during the pandemic, many active hornbill nests found near to human settlements were poached by community members, both for pets as well as additional sources of protein – potentially devastating hornbill populations.
With Continuation Funding, Yoki and his team will increase the number of hornbill nests under community protection through their nest adoption programme, and expand community monitoring patrols to cover more forest, reducing nest disturbances. They will also repair damaged nest cavities, restoring availability of suitable nests for the species. Lastly, the project will progress hornbill ecotourism initiatives across three villages, providing sustainable economic alternatives for local people. Building on the work supported by his Whitley Award in 2020, Yoki’s approach is turning hunters into guardians by ensuring that Helmeted Hornbills are worth more alive.