There is a staggering variety of life nestled among the branches and undergrowth of tropical forests across Asia and the Western Pacific. Stunning and bizarre birds rub shoulders with intriguing reptiles and amphibians, and an astoundingly diverse array of insects.
These forests are biodiversity hotspots of global importance, home to numerous globally-recognised Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). Conserving these forests will not only clean our air and water, retain our soil and offset climate change. It will preserve countless species vital for the world’s variety of life to continue.
Here are just a few examples of the fascinating species that will benefit from this project’s work:
Of the ten species of hornbills found in Malaysia, the Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil is the largest (over 1 metre in length), and rightfully the most spectacular. This massive hornbill dwells in the tropical lowland and hill rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, a habitat that is declining fast across the region due to large-scale logging. These Critically Endangered birds are further threatened by uncontrolled hunting for their casques (the “helmets” mentioned in their name). It is estimated than many thousands are poached every year to supply casques for the illegal trade in hornbill ivory in other parts of Asia.
Regarded by many as the largest bird of prey in the world, the Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi is also one of the world’s most threatened species. There are as few as 500 individuals left in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Mindanao and Luzon, especially the Sierra Madre mountains (where our key project landscape Mount Irid-Angelo is located). The Philippine Eagle is currently considered Critically Endangered, and remains threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and illegal hunting.
Formerly a widespread species across Indonesia’s Wallacea region, the Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea has suffered catastrophic declines in recent years due to large scale poaching for the pet bird trade. Yellow-crested Cockatoos are now virtually extinct across much of Sulawesi and adjoining islands. The last remaining populations now occur in the Lesser Sundas, particularly in Timor, Flores and a few other small islands. BirdLife International lists the species as Critically Endangered, in view of its rapid decline and small global population.
Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo
Tree Kangaroos are perhaps the most iconic mammal species on the tropical island of New Guinea, whose fauna of large vertebrates is dominated by birds. Occurring in two widely separated populations in the Foja and Torricelli mountains, the smart-looking Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus pulcherrimus has suffered a major decline due to subsistence hunting, and is now listed as Critically Endangered. The species is particularly vulnerable to hunting pressures due to its tiny distribution and very small populations.
Sadly, people are the principal cause all of these species’ declines – but they can also be part of the solution. By encouraging public pride in their local wildlife, species like these can be used as a flagship for the whole community to rally round. Conserving these charming species will also save a whole host of less charismatic – but no less vital – organisms that share their habitat.
This website has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of BirdLife International and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European union.