By SOMCHAI SAMART
THE SUNDAY NAT
A BABY rhinoceros hornbill snatched from its nest and illegally sold before being returned to the nest by Budo-Sungai Padi National Park officials last Tuesday has been put in the care of a livestock centre after its parents refused to feed it.
A veterinarian found the two-month-old bird was having respiratory difficulty due to a build-up of air in its stomach as a result of not being fed for 12 hours, the head of the Narathiwat park Somchai Siri-umakul said.
He said the Khok Mai Ruea Wild Animals Livestock Centre would keep the bird and then try to return it to the nest.
Somchai said the bird’s parents may have refused to feed it because a crowd of people looked on when it was returned to the nest last Tuesday and the parents may not be sure the bird was theirs.
The baby hornbill’s disappearance from nest No 29 was detected last Sunday by participants of an ecosystem research project on hornbill habitats being undertaken by Mahidol University’s Science Faculty.
The discovery led to a crackdown that resulted in the arrest of 20 people for wildlife offences, including three youngsters from Bacho district who confessed to stealing the baby hornbill from the nest a week earlier and selling it to a merchant for Bt3,200. The operation resulted in 21 animals being retrieved last Monday.
Sorayuth Chaikhiew, head of the livestock centre, said the facility would keep the rhinoceros hornbill near another baby bird also retrieved last Monday.
He expressed concern that keeping the bird away from the forest too long might result in it being unable to hunt for food because hornbills copy the food-hunting behaviour of their parents.
He said all 21 animals retrieved last week would be sent to the centre, as most were babies.
According to Mahidol researchers, Thailand has 13 types of hornbills. Along with the Budo mountain range, they are also found in the South.
The hornbills of Budo are threatened with extinction due to rampant poaching and forest encroachment.
Somchai vowed to continue to crackdown on illegal wildlife traders and poachers including drug-addicted youngsters, such as the three teens in this baby hornbill case, who supply animals to illegal traders.