February a month of love for humans and hornbills
Apart from Valentine’s Day and Makha Bucha, the second most important day in the Buddhist calendar, Thailand has also been celebrating “Love Hornbills Day” on February 13 every year since 1997.
The date was chosen to mark the fact that these birds are monogamous and mate for life. Legend has it that female hornbills and chicks will starve to death if the male partner does not return from hunting.
Research shows that these birds are key to the ecosystem as their presence and numbers are an indicator of a forest’s condition and fertility.
At last count five years ago, Thailand had 3,000 hornbills with most of them being spotted in Nakhon Nayok’s Khao Yai National Park and Narathiwat’s Budo Su-ngai Padi National Park.
The hornbill population in Thailand has been dwindling due to deforestation and hunting. They apparently fetch a high price in the black market as these birds are seen as a “symbol of prestige”.
The birds are covered by the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act and people caught possessing, buying or selling them can face up to four years in prison and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.