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Victory for Helmeted Hornbill

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Indonesia is home for thirteen species of hornbill and three of them are endemic. One of those is the most unique one, that is the Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil). This bird can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, and the area around Malay Peninsula. In Indonesia itself, the bird can be found fly away in Borneo and Sumatra forests.

Helmeted hornbill is the one and only species that have the solid and strong casque. This is the part called as “ivory” that they have. Unfortunately, the uniqueness brought them to the threats. Red ivory (name for this part) usually made for carvings and fulfill the exotic accessories needs and prestigious stuffs. Therefore, this item has fantastic price. This matter then makes helmeted hornbill become target of poaching and wildlife trafficking in the world. The high demand of this part came from China then distributed to East Asia states, America, even to Europe.

High of helmeted hornbill makes the existence of this bird become more threatened. It proved with the rise of extinction status in IUCN Red List significantly, from Near Threatened (NT) to Critically Endangered (CR). It means that the status rise in three level at a time. Beside the high poaching, another threat like the lost of habitat caused by deforestation, and its character that have slow reproduction also become important factors for the extinction of this species.

September 24th until October 5th 2016, COP17 CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa has been held. For the first time, Indonesia submit the proposal for full protection of helmeted hornbill. The proposal accepted on October 2nd 2016. All of parties that attended COP17 CITES approve to adopt the policy and strong resolution, and express the needs for conservation effort and law enforcement steps to the “consumer” states and also the “supplier” states. Those had to  conducted to prevent the helmeted hornbill extinction.

“This is a great victory for the helmeted hornbill that has been ruthlessly hunted for its red ivory as the elephant has been killed off for its ivory. Many have heard about the elephant ivory crisis and now it is time to hear more about helmeted hornbill ivory crisis and take swift action to save it” said Noviar Andayani, director of Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program.

Helmeted hornbill actually protected. It has been recorded as Appendix I in CITES since 1975 that means this species is prohibited to be trafficked whatever the reason is. Moreover, this bird also protected under national law of China and South East Asia states. But unfortunately, the activity of poaching and trafficking still happen, in line with the law enforcement that not getting strong.

Data from Traffic report said that at least there were 1,200-27,000 helmeted hornbills killed in West Kalimantan between March 2012 until August 2014.

The CITES resolution about helmeted hornbill urges all of parties in COP17 CITES to adopt the comprehensive legislation and enforcement controls to halt poaching and commercial trade of helmeted hornbill. It calls for cross border co-operation between range states on habitat protection, in anti-poaching efforts and for monitoring the impact of hunting on hornbill populations. It also urges states to develop and implement a Conservation Action Plan for the helmeted hornbill and promote awareness of relevant laws.

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