Saving the Majestic Helmeted Hornbill

Indonesia Hornbill Conservation Society
Open Access
DOI: 10.18258/3781
Raised of $3,000 Goal
Funded on 12/23/14
Successfully Funded
  • $3,096
  • 103%
  • Funded
    on 12/23/14

About This Project

Helmeted hornbills are a conservation icon of the Asian tropical rainforest. These large birds are of major ecological and cultural significance, but increasingly threatened with extinction. They need healthy tropical forests to survive, but forests are disappearing and poaching for their ivory bills makes thing even more worse! Urgent action is needed, starting with a conservation and threat assessment.

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What is the context of this research?

Helmeted Hornbills (Rhinoplax vigil) are unique bird. Their hooting and loud laughing calls resonated in the rainforest, from Thailand in the north through the Malay Peninsula, and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. As large fruit eaters, they play important ecological roles by dispersing the seeds. As tree hollow breeders, they need large, old trees that have developed cavities that fit to their body. However, these trees are targeted for timber. Ironically, they are also hunted for the ivory of their bills, for carving and in Chinese medicine. The issue rarely features in conservation discussions and the governments are not taking action, because few facts are known. Urgently actions are required to understanding the scale of the problem by assessing their conservation and threat status.

What is the significance of this project?

Currently, 1.2 million hectares of Indonesia forest is disappearing each year, rapidly reducing the amount of hornbill habitat. Even more worryingly is the number of hornbills killed. My preliminary investigations revealed that in 2013 alone about 500 adult Helmeted Hornbills were killed each month, or some 6,000 in one year. These figures are supported by the 1,111 Helmeted Hornbill heads that were confiscated by the Indonesian authorities between 2012 and 2014. In the market, one head is worth for hundred dollars. For a slow-breeding species like the Helmeted Hornbill, which produces one young per year, these mortality rates cannot be sustained.

What are the goals of the project?

  1. Assess the most important remaining Helmeted Hornbill populations
  2. Assess mortality rates
  3. Based on the above, provide recommendations about the global conservation status of the species
  4. Raise awareness about the problems faced by Helmeted Hornbills
  5. Work with the Indonesian government to develop immediate conservation interventions


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I kindly request your financial support to allow me to visit some remote areas in Indonesia to assess the present situation of hornbill occurrences and threats. Most of my requested budget will be used for travel. I will use some of the funds for media documentation (photos and video) for future awareness purposes. I will allocate a small amounts to salary and fees of local counterparts, payment for park admission, etc. My own time input to this project will be pro bono.

Meet the Team

Yokyok "Yoki" Hadiprakarsa
Yokyok "Yoki" Hadiprakarsa

Team Bio

I'm a person full of zing and passion for landscape ecology, wildlife management, systematic spatial planning, and environmental sustainability to make humans and nature coexist in harmony. I started my carrier as a Wildlife Biologist for Wildlife Conservation Society - Indonesia Program. I've been involved in more than 15 years of wildlife research specializing in hornbill ecology. In 2008 I completed a Master of Science in Forest Resources, University of Georgia, USA by research on forest fragmentation effect to hornbill communities and hornbill habitat modeling. I'm also the founder of Indonesia Hornbill Conservation Society, Co-founder of Rekam Nusantara Foundation and Director of the Indonesian Ornithologist Union (2011-2016) and Co - Chairman of the Asian Hornbill Network.

Additional Information

All 13 Indonesia hornbill species are protected by Indonesia government and IUCN listed Helmeted hornbill as Near Threatened (NT). In West Kalimantan, Indonesia, Helmeted hornbill has become a proud provincial symbol that represents the bravery and elegant of Dyaks tribes which still dominate the province. Surprisingly, that politic and cultural recognition cannot stop threats to hornbill population

Relevant References

BirdLife International 2012. Rhinoplax vigil. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2.

Hadiprakarsa, Y. , Irawan, R. and Nugroho A.D. 2013. Helmeted hornbill head trafficking: What do we know about it?. Oral presentation at The 6th International Hornbill Conference, Manila – Philippines — April 2013

Assorted photos
Fledgling Helmeted hornbill on morning sun bathing

Adult female Helmeted hornbill having a feast with fig fruits

Deforestation rampaging Helmeted hornbill habitats

One month old decapitated Helmeted hornbill head

Confiscated Helmeted hornbill head in 2013

Project Backers

  • 27Backers
  • 103%Funded
  • $3,096Total Donations
  • $114.67Average Donation
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