Archived 2011-2012 topics: Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris): request for information

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].

BirdLife species factsheet for Oriental Pied Hornbill

Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris is a widespread resident in northern South Asia, southern China, Indochina and western Indonesia. It is listed as being of Least Concern on the basis that it does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).

The species’s ability to survive in edge habitats, secondary forests, selectively logged forests, gardens and cultivated land (Kemp 1995) indicates a high tolerance of habitat fragmentation, degradation and disturbance, and suggests that it is relatively resilient to the impacts of agricultural expansion and timber exploitation. In fact, the species shows a preference for lower-growth and secondary forest over tall primary forest (Datta 1998). Despite its tolerance of human-altered landscapes, in the Thai-Malay Peninsula at least the species prefers the interface between low-lying terrestrial forest and a coastline or significant river (Wells 1999).

Although little concern has been expressed in the past regarding its status, it was recently noted that this species has been almost completely extirpated from southern China (J. Fellowes in litt. 2010). In the Thai-Malay Peninsula, the species is in decline probably owing to off-take for the trade in fledglings and outright forest clearance, which leads to its local disappearance (Wells 1999). There is some evidence that the species has traditionally been captured for the local pet trade, as historically one to two were reportedly kept in every village in at least some areas of Myanmar (Tickell 1864 in Kemp 1995). The casques of Oriental Pied Hornbills are common souvenirs in the markets of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam; however, the extent of this trade has not been measured (Kinnaird and O’Brien 2007).

Kinnaird and O’Brien (2007) conducted Principle Component Analysis of the vulnerability of Asian hornbill species to patterns of habitat loss and fragmentation and placed each species in one of four groups: ‘safe’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘at risk’ and ‘high risk’. The analysis resulted in the Oriental Pied Hornbill being placed in the ‘vulnerable’ group on the basis that it has large amounts of habitat remaining but is suffering from the fragmentation and isolation of populations (Kinnaird and O’Brien 2007).

In light of this information and given the widespread prevalence of relevant threats, further information is requested on its status from all parts of its range. Data and observations on the severity of threats and likely population trends are needed to help in the re-evaluation of its Red List status. Evidence that the overall rate of decline is approaching 30% (typically 20-29%) over three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.28 years, would likely qualify the species for uplisting to Near Threatened. If evidence suggests that the rate of decline is at least 30% over 28 years, the species may be eligible for uplisting to at least Vulnerable.

References:

Datta, A. (1998) Hornbill abundance in unlogged forest, selectively logged forest and a forest plantation in Arunachal Pradesh, India. Oryx 32: 285-294.

Kemp, A. (1995) The Hornbills. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (Bird Families of the World).

Kinnaird, M. F. and O’Brien, T. G. (2007) The ecology and conservation of Asian hornbills: farmers of the forest. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Wells, D. R. (1999) The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Volume One, Non- passerines. London, UK: Academic Press.

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7 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris): request for information

  1. Having been lost as a breeding species in Singapore since the 19th or early 20th century, occasional individuals continued to reach Singapore (probably from neighbouring Johor, Peninsular Malaysia). The species made a come-back as a breeding population beginning in 1994-1997, and the provision of artificial nest spaces has raised the population to an estimated 50-60 individuals in 2010. The population increase is continuing, accompanied by geographical spread through Singapore.

  2. Simon Mahood says:

    Although this species has clearly been lost from quite large parts of its former range (including much of northern Vietnam), it must, overall, be the least threatened Asian hornbill owing to its (still) very wide range, small size, habitat preferences etc. It remains the commonest hornbill at sites where it occurs. If it really deserves to be uplisted, then by the same reasoning most other Asian hornbills (most of which are more forest dependent and range restricted) are also more threatened than we currently think.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    The following wording, regarding the species’s status in Cambodia, has been extracted from a document sent by Frédéric Goes on 14 October 2011:

    The commonest hornbill, found in small flocks in all forested parts of the country, from lowlands up to at least 800m. Present in dry dipterocarp, pine, semi-evergreen, hill evergreen, riverine forests, as well as mangroves, coastal forests and islands. Occurs in the upper Mekong channel woodlands and even in secondary growth and scrublands. Widespread in the southwest and north-northeast. Patchy distribution in the northwest, where it occurs in Oddar Meanchey and northern Siem Reap, plus a small population surviving in the Angkor forest. Extinct in the southeast.

    Near-Threatened in Thailand. Obviously not in conservation concern in Cambodia, where it is widespread and locally abundant.

  4. Not as current as I used to be on hornbill status, but have received no reports of serious concern from any contacts for Oriental Pied Hornbill. Had contact with a student studying a few pairs on Pulau Tiga island (Sabah), venue of the first ‘Survivor’ TV show! Also saw/heard about the positive Singapore efforts. Failed to record the species during a year at HalaBala (2004, S Thailand), but previously only a rare vagrant anyway. A check of the species (and any others) on Google Image yields a range of checkable IDs and localities.

  5. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were sent by Will Duckworth on 24 November 2011:

    The comment from Wells (“Despite its tolerance of human-altered landscapes, in the Thai-Malay Peninsula at least the species prefers the interface between low-lying terrestrial forest and a coastline or significant river (Wells 1999).”) reflects [the] amazing contrast in habitat use between Borneo (fits Wells’s profile) and Lao (nothing like the profile).

    From a Lao perspective I’m sure this would make at least VU. It was an oversight for us not to have listed it in our 1999 report as a species of national conservation interest. However, I agree with Simon Mahood’s comment: “If it really deserves to be uplisted, then by the same reasoning most other Asian hornbills (most of which are more forest dependent and range restricted) are also more threatened than we currently think”.

  6. No indication to my knowledge that the species is in decline in Peninsular Malaysia. As indicated in several other sources quoted, it is the most adaptable of the hornbills to landscape modification, and still occurs rather commonly in suitable coastal habitats where it has occurred historically.

  7. Paul Thompson says:

    In Bangladesh it is rare, restricted to eastern evergreen forests which are very fragmented and continue to lose larger trees, and was listed in 2000 in the national red data bok as “endangered”. Some evidence of declines in recent years from the best studied site – Lawachara forest (since 1996 a National Park):

    a) % of days I visited Lawachara forest (NP) with Oriental Pied Hornbill recorded
    85-89 90-94 95-99 00-04 05-09
    9.9 29.5 22.1 22.5 5.8

    b) Estimated density per sq km (Nishorgo study Monirul Khan)
    2005 2006 2007 2008
    14.34 13.21 12 11.1

    The latter was despite increases in the same period in some ground/undergrowth species and improved protection since 2005.

    Of course on a larger scale this still leaves it the most widespread Asian hornbill and other species more threatened.

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