Numbers of Helmeted hornbill have crash down in past recent years due as a demand soar for the so called “red ivory”. The value of hornbill helmets in china are 5 times the price of elephant’s ivory. The increasing demand comes from china for the use in traditional medicines or to make an artifact.
The helmeted hornbill is the largest hornbill species in Asia and it is habitat in tropical forests in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar.But due illegal trade as well as deforestation of the natural habitation of this species its diminishing their counts.However, This species is listed under endangered ones by IUCN.
Due to its tremendous demand and high price it has come under endangered species list. A single casque is sold for approx $1000 ,it has a nick named as red ivory before carved .The casque is made of solid keratin same as rhino horn and its valued high as its easy to carve .It is slightly softer than the elephants ivory ,hence used to make decorative ornaments ,artifacts which are then sold as status symbol.
“They are quite large birds, the males can reach just over 3kg so they are quite easy to shoot,” said Sophie Adwick from the Zoological Society of London.
“It’s often said that you can hear them before you can see them as they make a cackling type noise.”
In 2013, it was estimated that up to 500 birds were being killed every month in West Borneo for their bills,
As the killing has also adversely affected their breeding .The birds has very unique process of breeding ,female builds the nest in hollow trees and male seal them by using mud. Male brings food and feed them through a slit in the mud seal. The breeding duration lasts for 160 days. While the males are out in the forest for food, they are likely to get shot, resulting in death of the female and chicks due to insufficient food.
However the trade is illegal under the convention on international trade and also associated with Indonesian law of trafficking of hornbills or any of their parts. The culprit found with any of parts will be penalized for fine of $10,000 and under custody for five years.