- October 14, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Environment
Context – Save hornbills, for they are the gardeners of tropical forests: Study
- Scientists from two organisations studied how fruiting plants and hornbills influenced each other’s distribution in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. The reserve, located in Arunachal Pradesh, is one of India’s most biodiverse protected areas. It is home to five of India’s nine species of hornbills.
- The conservation of hornbills is of prime importance since they have a symbiotic relationship with several canopy trees in tropical forests. They are attracted to such trees for food and in turn, they scatter their seeds, creating orchards, a new study has said.
- Hornbills were among the very few birds that could feed on fruits with large seeds, regurgitate and disperse the undamaged seeds away from the mother plant.
- This was an important service that hornbills provided to trees.
- Our study shows that forest patches that have rare trees like Canarium, attract hornbills in large numbers. In turn, hornbills end up dispersing seeds of a diverse array of plant species in higher numbers in these patches with some of these hornbill food trees. In the longer term, this likely creates orchards that continue attracting hornbills.
- The researchers observed four species of hornbills including the Great, Rufous-necked and Brown, apart from the Wreathed Hornbills. The most common Wreathed Hornbill was mostly seen in patches with the rare, large-seeded canopy trees.
- The number of dispersed seeds was highest in patches with the highest abundance of hornbills. The diversity of regenerating saplings was also highest in those patches.
- The study strengthens the popular image of hornbills being gardeners or farmers of the forest, demonstrating that they farm their own food-rich patches through their seed dispersal.
- The statement said hornbills were being driven locally extinct because of threats posed by hunting and habitat loss.
About Hornbills –
- The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of birds found in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia.
- India is home to nine species of hornbills. The northeastern region has the highest diversity of hornbill species within India.
- Papum Rerserve Forest in Arunachal Pradesh is a nesting habitat of three species of hornbills: the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus) and the Oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), Wreathed and Oriental Pied.
- The 862 sq.km. Pakke reserve houses a fourth species, the Rufous-necked hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) species are found here.
- The great hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
- They are the cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
- They are referred to as ‘forest engineers’ or ‘farmers of forest’ for playing a key role in dispersing seeds of tropical trees and indicate the prosperity and balance of the forest they build nests in.
- The Hornbill festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas.
- Currently, 26 out of the 62 species (40%) of hornbills are Globally Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction, with all other species listed as Least Concern, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
- The great hornbill is evaluated as vulnerable.
- It is protected at the highest level under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.