Friday, September 11, 2009

The Helmeted Hornbill (Buceros vigil)

"Imagine being on the tropical island of Borneo and drifting quietly down a steam in a dug-out canoe. The giant trees of the rainforest rise on each bank like cathedral spires, and the creepers which festoon them form cloisters that conceal the dark damp interior. Raindrops pattering on the foliage and distant rumble of a retreating thunderstorm form a backdrop of sound, though which penetrates a single mournful hoot. More hoots follow at intervals, accelerating in tempo until they break suddenly into peals of maniacal laughter. Two huge birds then burst across the dome of the sky, their naked red heads extended and metre-long tail feathers trailing behind. Cackling loudly, they ram into one another like mountain sheep’s… Male Helmeted Hornbills are busy in defense of their territorial boundaries."

(Alan Kemp from his book HORNBILLS -1995)

The Helmeted Hornbill has captured the imagination of a lot of people since it was first discovered in written science by the early explorers to the tropical rainforest of Asia in the early days. The unmistakable size of this hornbill, reaching up to more than 1 metre plus its long elongated centrail tail feathers, its distinctive reddish yellowish casque which is Solid and its interesting hooting to eventual laughing call makes this species of hornbill unique in its own way. 54 species of hornbills occur in the world with 8 of them being found here in the island of BORNEO. The 8 are the Oriental Pied Hornbill, The Asian Black Hornbill, The Bushy Crested Hornbill, The Wreathed Hornbill, The Wrinkled Hornbill, The Rhinoceros Hornbill and also the Helmeted Hornbill.

This species are considered to be a rarity of sightings these days as their numbers have significantly dropped due to the loss of its natural habitat ie the lowland dipterocarp forest. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the helmeted hornbill is evaluated as Near Threatened. If you do see one, you will realized that it is not an easy proposition to photographed this bird as they rarely descend lower from the canopies of most trees. They are also very shy and wary, a behavior which have most likely developed due to the pressure of hunting for its casque and feathers not so long ago. This are some photos of this rare hornbill which I hope to get a better photograph one day. Wish me Luck!! :P

Photos taken along the main Kinabatangan River, (N 05 32. 118' E 118 17. 442'/Pangi Forest Reserve - Fig Tree) Sukau Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife sanctuary on 16 June 2009.

Nikon D300 + 70-300mm VR at 300mm F 8 ISO 500


Jordan Sitorus said...

Woits! Congrats bro!! Excellent shots, any better that this...gonna hv to be shots from an aviary or some sort...(if there's any!)

anyway, Better luck next time!

Anonymous said...

Nice shots!!! Good job!!!


Cede Prudente said...

good to knpw the Helmeted hornbills are still around!
Nice capture Mark..

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