The #HelmetedHornbill ( #RhinoplaxVigil ), is one of the world's largest species of #hornbill . It is found in Southeast Asia.
Many #hornbills are adorned with casques - hollow keratin structures - that sit atop the base of their bills. The helmeted hornbill's #casque, however, is solid, and is used in territorial combat. It is also apparently (and rather unfortunately) a very suitable material for carving. For this reason, these birds have been poached for their casques (and, at times, their feathers) for centuries, to be made into pendants, beads, and other accessories carved with elaborate designs. In recent years, poaching has increased exponentially, with thousands of birds being killed annually, and the species' #conservation status has leapt from #NearThreatened to #criticallyendangered .
Each year, mated pairs search for tree hollows to raise their new young in. The female enters a hollow and the two begin to cover the entrance with mud, leaving only enough room for the female to poke her bill out. The male is then left to do all of the foraging, continuously flying to and from the nest to deliver food to the female, and (eventually), the newborn chick. Incredibly, he will do this for roughly 5 months (until the chick starts fledging - that is, begins to develop flight feathers). As the female and chick are unable to leave the nest in this time, should a poacher kill the male during this period, he is essentially killing 3 birds at once, leaving his mate and offspring to starve.
Helmeted hornbills are extremely valuable to their habitats as seed dispersers; they often regurgitate and defecate the seeds of the many fruits they eat as they travel. Unless anti-poaching and anti-trafficking laws are heavily enforced, and the forests they live in are protected, it is possible another incredible species will be lost to human ignorance and greed. And what would be a Southeast Asian rainforest without hearing their iconic call echoing through the treetops?
#Inktober #Inktober2018 #InktoberDay22 #InktoberDay22Expensive #EndangeredSpecies #Wildlife #Birds #Skull #SkullDrawing #Poaching #WildlifeTrafficking #Bucerotidae #Microns #MicronDrawing