HNAP Expansion

Increasing the scope of hornbill conservation and protection of their habitats with local community institutions in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal

  • The mighty Siang river winds its way through a breathtaking landscape.

  • Rufous-Necked Hornbills are a globally threatened species which have been heavily hunted across their distributional range in Northeast India

  • The Dehing-Patkai landscape in Assam harbours some of the last remaining lowland dipterocarp forests in Northeast India, important for scores of wildlife, including the rare and endangered Brown Hornbill

  • A male Brown Hornbill on a feeding visit to the nest

  • Buxa Tiger Reserve seems to be a great place for hornbills, especially the Great Hornbill.

  • Male Great Hornbill in Buxa TR

Taking HNAP to new sites

Hornbills are large birds moving over large landscapes and they face multiple threats due to human activities (habitat loss due to illegal logging, agricultural clearing and cash crop expansion) and hunting. Their long-term survival needs to be ensured outside the small islands of Protected Areas. 

The Hornbill Nest Adoption Program is a successful model for community-based conservation, which was adopted in 2011 to protect breeding populations of hornbills that occur outside Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh. Since 2017, we have tried to take this model to other sites in north-east India, but instead of employing Nest Protectors, we are trying to find other ways of engaging with local partners to establish a long-term hornbill monitoring and protection network. 

Dehing-Patkai landscape in Eastern Assam

Brown Hornbills are a little-known rare species with a restricted distribution in Northeast India. In 2017, we started work in the Jeypore Reserved Forest-Dihing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary landscape, where they are found. Eastern Assam has few of the last remaining lowland dipterocarp forests in isolated pockets, with Design–Patkai landscape being the only contiguous forest amongst them. 

Brown Hornbills are usually found in flocks. They have a co-operative breeding system, unlike other hornbill species found in India. During the breeding season, males are known to be assisted by juvenile male helpers to feed and guard the nests. We now know of five Brown Hornbill nests in the area. To successfully conserve this species, we need to understand more about their behavior and breeding biology. 

Aside from fieldwork and research, we are also signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Digboi college (Zoology and Botany Departments) for facilitating training and capacity-building of local students and for undertaking conservation work with communities in the area.. 

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A pair of Brown Hornbills inspecting a nest cavity

Upper Siang district, Central Arunachal

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The head of a hunted femaleRufous-Necked Hornbill

Buxa Tiger Reserve, North Bengal

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A Great Hornbill male feeding the female inside the nest cavity

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