Rhinoceros hornbills are an ecologically significant species to the dense rain forests of Indonesia by scattering the seeds of over 80 different species of fruits and nuts. These birds get their name from the huge casque on their beak which helps with vocalizing. The color of the beak comes from an oil gland located at the base of the tail. Hornbills are cavity nesters and will try to find an appropriate sized hole for egg development. The males will seal the females into the cavity with a mixture of fruit, mud and droppings, leaving a hole large enough for the male to pass food to the female during incubation.
Rhinoceros Hornbills are listed as near threatened because of many factors including deforestation, habitat loss, climate change and poaching. Many poachers will raid the nest of the hornbill and either take the eggs or the hornbill chicks for sale on the black market.
How the Toledo Zoo Helps
The Toledo Zoo raises money for the Thailand Hornbill Project, which began in 1978, to support conservation efforts for hornbills in the wild. The Thailand Hornbill Project currently conducts research on the biology and ecology of these threatened animals in the wild and collaborates with several academic institutions, government and non-government sectors and international zoos. In addition, the Thailand Hornbill Project has a Hornbill Family Adoption Program and an educational nature center called the Budo Hornbills Conservation and Education Center located in Narathiwat Thailand.
The Toledo Zoo sponsors several nests located in Thailand and, in return, receives data, photos and other information about the birds we support. In an effort to prevent poaching of the nests, locals are hired to protect the nests and are employed by the Thailand Hornbill Project using money donated to them from institution like the Toledo Zoo.