Great Hornbills are a common sight in Khao Yai, thanks to the protection afforded by the national park. Lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of the birds nesting high in the trees.
Female hornbills will usually nest in tree hollows like this one, blocking up the entrance with bark, dirt and droppings, leaving only a small opening for her mate to deliver food.
Normally, she will incubate her eggs for around 40 days and stay with her chicks until they are semi-developed. The total rearing cycle usually takes 120 days.
Biologists are concerned that climate change may be affecting the breeding cycles of Khao Yai’s Great Hornbills. Their research suggests the total duration of chick rearing has recently increased by 20 days, to a total of 140 days.
Increasing temperatures aren’t the only threat to Khao Yai’s Great Hornbills. Demand from the exotic pet trade makes hornbills a target of poachers and wildlife traffickers. Their unique beaks are also highly sought after.
If a male is captured or killed during the nesting period, the female won’t abandon her young, even if it means starving to death.
Protecting hornbill families from poachers and ensuring intact and healthy forest for them to forage and nest in is crucial to the survival of this colourful species.
According to the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, the Great Hornbill is “declining moderately rapidly throughout its range” and is now “generally scarce” in Thailand.