By THE NATION
Thailand has 13 species of hornbills, 10 of which prefer the South.
But hornbill chicks fetch a good price on the black market – the birds are regarded by some collectors as “symbols of prestige” – so they’re legally protected.
Besides the threat to their babies from bird fanciers, hornbills are directly endangered by deforestation, since they make their homes in holes dug into tree trunks.
Songkhla Zoo is one of the best places in the country to observe hornbills in captivity, giving them room to fly and thrive inside a large netted compound designed to resemble the natural forest.
On view are rhinoceros, Cygnus, wreathed and bushy-crested hornbills, and their population at the zoo is expanding.
It’s only unfortunate that they can’t be released back into the wild, since the danger out there shows no sign of abating.