The hornbill bird species today, especially here in Borneo are facing a great threat that makes is harder for the birds to nest and breed.

Artificial Hollows to Save Hornbills

The Need

The hornbill bird species today, especially here in Borneo are facing a great threat that makes is harder for the birds to nest and breed.

These birds nest in tree cavities and yet, despite their large bill and casque (the helmet-like structure that sits on their bill), they are unable to create tree cavities themselves. The species relies on other animals such as woodpeckers and sun bears to create cavities, which the hornbills later occupy. Many large cavity-bearing trees in the region have been removed as a result of logging and agricultural expansion. For example, Kinabatangan (Malaysian Borneo) is a regenerating forest that is home to eight species of hornbills. The forest is rich with fig trees but lacks cavity-bearing trees.Ravinder Kaur

Our Involvement

Taking you back to June 2018, we installed a nestbox onto a Mallotus muticus tree at Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL) to provide home for hornbills.  In 2019 itself, we expanded our initiative by installing another two nesting boxes sponsored by SRL and Borneo Eco Tours respectively. Built by the skilful chap Helson Hassan, we hope these boxes will encourage the breeding of hornbills as where the destruction of trees has made natural nesting impossible. 

We had the Wildlife Survey and Protection (WSP) team installed another hornbill box at SRL and we tell you...this job requires well-experienced personnel like Eddie and Ahmad from WSP to put it up at the height of 58feet on aCaralia Brachiatta, locally known as Meransi tree. The tree itself stands at 82feet tall!

Another successful installation at Kinabatangan Rasig- located adjacent to lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and about 2km from Pangi Forest Reserve. The XL-sized nest box that weighs about 80kg was installed onto a Resak tree at the height of 40feet. We hope that this special gift would attract large-bodied Rhinoceros hornbills and White-Crowned hornbills.

Hope for good news!

The Impact

This is not the first of its kind. We hope for this to be another conservation success in saving Borneo’s hornbills. Just like in 2013, five artificial nest boxes were set up along the river in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve courtesy of a local NGO and its partners. Four years later, a pair of rhinoceros hornbills nested in the box and managed to successfully raise a chick until it fledged.

Though we have not had our successes of hornbills nesting, there were several sightings of different species of hornbills inspecting the box. Among our visitors were Bushy Crested hornbills, Oriental Pied hornbills and Wrinkled hornbills.

The Godfather of Biodiversity, Thomas Lovejoy once said, “If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.

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Borneo Land Conservancy

Sukau Ecotourism Research Centre (SERC)