Young Hornbills missing from Lower Kinabatangan?
“I have visited Sabah before briefly for the Borneo Bird Festival last year but after visiting the Lower Kinabatangan to do a rapid assessment of hornbills, I am now concerned in particular with the lack of information on breeding cycles for the whole state and the lack of suitable nesting trees in this area in particular,” shared Poonswad.
Poonswad and her team of three researchers spent a week with local counterparts at field sites of the Lower Kinabatangan with the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), HUTAN — Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme (HUTAN-KOCP) and the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).
“The first thing that needs to be done is to establish when are the different species of hornbills breeding,” stated Poonswad who has spent the past 33 years studying and carrying out community based conservation of hornbills in Thailand.
During the teams’ rapid assessment in the Lower Kinabatangan, another issue that has caused concern for Poonswad and her researchers is the lack of suitable nesting trees.
“I understand that the Lower Kinabatangan is a forest that has previously been extensively logged and I can clearly see it is also now part of the oil palm landscape. This means that big trees which are usually preferred by hornbills are missing from this area,” explained Poonswad.
For example, in a similar site in Southern Thailand, Rhinoceros Hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros) on average makes its nest in trees that have a diameter of about 148 centimetres but in the Lower Kinabatangan, Poonswad estimated that trees that might be suitable were mostly between 40 to 60 centimetres in diameter.
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