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Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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Although this species has a large range, it occurs at low densities and is patchily distributed. It may have a moderately small population and is likely to be declining moderately rapidly throughout its range; it is therefore listed as Near Threatened as it almost qualifies for listing as threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd; C1.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Buceros bicornis has a wide distribution, occurring in China (rare resident in west and south-west Yunnan and south-east Tibet), India (locally fairly common, but declining), Nepal (local and uncommon, largely in protected areas), Bhutan (fairly common), Bangladesh (vagrant), Myanmar (scarce to locally common resident throughout), Thailand (widespread, generally scarce but locally common), Lao PDR (formerly common; currently widespread but scarce and a major decline has clearly occurred), Viet Nam (rare and declining resident), Cambodia (rare), peninsular Malaysia (uncommon to more or less common) and Indonesia: the species is now uncommon on Sumatra where it has shown a significant decline following recent devastation of the island's lowland forest (K. D. Bishop in litt. 2012).

Population justification
The population has been estimated to number 3,500 individuals in west India. This only constitutes 5-24% of the species's range, so a very preliminary estimate of the total population is 10,000-70,000 individuals. It is probably best placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals, roughly equating to 13,000-27,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A moderately rapid decline is suspected to be occurring, as a result of the degradation and clearance of forests throughout the species's range, as well as persecution by hunters and trappers.

This species frequents wet evergreen and mixed deciduous forests, ranging out into open deciduous areas to visit fruit trees and ascending slopes to at least 1,560 m (Mudappa and Raman 2009). The abundance of this species tends to be correlated with the density of large trees, and it is therefore most common in unlogged forest; indeed, recent work has shown a significant nesting preference for larger trees, usually in old-growth forest (James and Kannan 2009).

Logging is likely to have impacted on this species throughout its range, particularly as it shows a preference for forest areas with large trees that may be targeted by loggers. Forest clearance for agriculture is also likely to have contributed to declines. It is particularly susceptible to hunting pressure as it is large and visits predictable feeding sites (such as fruiting trees), and its casques are kept or sold as trophies. It is also probably impacted by the pet trade (Eames 2008).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. The species is captively bred in zoos (Jensen 2008). It occurs in protected areas including Anamalai Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats, India (Mudappa and Raman 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor populations across its range to determine the magnitude of declines and rates of range contraction. Campaign for the protection of remaining extensive tracts of lowland forest throughout its range.  Develop the existing captive breeding population to support future reintroduction and supplementation efforts.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Eames, J. C. 2008. Rufous-necked and Great Hornbills confiscated in Myanmar. The Babbler: BirdLife in Indochina: 15.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

James, D. A.; Kannan, R. 2009. Nesting habitat of the Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) in the Anaimalai Hills of southern India. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 121(3): 485-492.

Jensen, S. B. 2008. Modernes Kennenlernen bei Hornvögeln. Gefiederte Welt 132(6): 32.

Mudappa, D.; Shankar Rahman, T. R. 2009. A conservation status survey of hornbills (Bucerotidae) in the Western Ghats, India. Indian Birds 5(4): 90-102.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N. & Taylor, J.

Bishop, K.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Buceros bicornis. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size 13000-27000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,950,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species