Did You Guys Know That Hornbills Are An Endangered Species Too?

They need all the help they can.

  • Monday, 4 November 2019
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Did You Guys Know That Hornbills Are An Endangered Species Too?

There are many ways to celebrate National Day and Malaysia Day – fireworks, thanking the people who gave us independence, going on a holiday and more.

One company, however, decided to be different and started a fundraising campaign for an endangered animal, which also happens to be the identity of this country.

Nope, not the Malayan tigers, but the hornbills.

Despite being the star of our latest tourism campaign logo, appearing on RM5 notes and other promotional items, hornbills don’t get the same kind of attention the tigers do, despite them getting closer to extinction.

Realising this, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, together with the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), started a campaign in August this year to help save the hornbills.

The campaign included the sale of limited edition water bottles and mugs, where a portion of the profit went towards collecting funds for MNS’s hornbill conservation programme.

Pretty, right? If you're lucky, you might still find it in some outlets
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Malaysia Director of Marketing and Development Fiona Rodrigues said that when people talk about the country, we often forget about the original inhabitants – the animals.

Bearing this in mind, the company came up with the annual campaign that aims to help a different endangered animal each year.

Last year, it was a mammal (i.e. the tiger), this year a bird (i.e. the hornbills) and next year, it’ll be some other animal, possibly water-dwelling ones.

The company managed to raise RM30,000, which was handed over to MNS at an event recently.

“It’s a privilege to have played a small role in this effort and we hope our campaign has touched many individuals to learn more about Malaysia’s iconic Hornbill and the future of its survival,” said Rodrigues, thanking the public who made the contribution possible.

Cheque Presentation Ceremony. L-R - Fiona Rodrigues, Director of Marketing & Development, CB&TL, I.S Shanmugaraj, Executive Director of MNS, Yeap Chin Aik, Senior Conservation Officer cum Project Manager of MNS
During the event, Senior Conservation Officer cum Project Manager of MNS hornbill conservation project Yeap Chin Aik also shared some interesting insights about the magnificent birds.

Here are some of the things we found fascinating:

#1 Many species of the hornbills are going extinct

Great hornbill
According to the data MNS has collected between 2004 and 2018, more species of the hornbills are endangered and might go extinct if immediate actions aren’t taken.

Peninsular Malaysia has 10 species of Hornbills, while Borneo has eight.

In 2004, only one of the 10 species were classified as vulnerable, but in a span of less than two decades, eight out of the 10 species are now facing extinction (at different degrees) as they lose their habitat to development and poaching.

Hornbills tend to travel far during the migration season, and the need large trees to nest in. The more forests we cut down, the more in danger the animals will be in.

#2 Hornbills mate for life

Loyal, these hornbills
This species of bird is seriously #CoupleGoals. For one, they mate for life. No cheating and polygamy for ‘em.

This is not to say they don’t find a new mate if one part of the couple dies and such. But bar that, they stay loyal.

#3 They communicate with each other all the time

Communication is the key to a healthy relationship and these birds know it
We all know that communication is the key to a successful relationship, and we can learn a thing or two from these birds.

According to Yeap, hornbill couples talk to each other all the time. You know, just sitting on the trees telling each other about their day and their observation of the world.

 Possibly. Since humans haven’t learnt bird talk, one could only assume.

#4 Hornbills can’t build their own nest

Black hornbill feeding the family living inside the tree

The birds don’t have the tools to build their own nest, so they often rely on other animals and nature to take care of it for them.

Every year, the birds look for cavities in trees so the female can nest, make new babies and take care of them till they chicks are old enough to go out into the big, bad world.

While the female is nesting, the male looks for food and feed the family through a small hole in the tree the female is nesting in.

Aww…such responsible family men male hornbills are.

#5 Hornbills can germinate up to 14,600 trees in a lifetime

Hornbills don't sh*t where they eat, so the seeds that they get rid of are spread far and wide
Dubbed ‘the farmers of the forest’, one hornbill can ‘plant’ thousands of trees in a lifetime.

Since hornbills travel far during some seasons, the trees they ‘plants’ are also spread far and wide.

The diet of a hornbill typically consists of fruits but sometimes it also eats animals such as scorpions, snakes, rodents, insects and other smaller animals.

What can we do to help?


The ways to saving the environment is often similar:

  • Educate yourself and others of the issues.

  • Be more mindful of your consumption because forests are often sacrificed for human excesses.

  • Support organisations that are doing something about an issue by volunteering or donating.

  • If you see people selling endangered animals, their body parts or products made from them, report them to the authorities. Social media has become one of the major marketplace for illegal wildlife trading so if you see one, report it immediately.

  • Protest unplanned, rapid development. Engage with your government representatives if you see something you don’t agree with happening in your neighbourhood.

All we have to do is care, read the multitude of information out there on the environment and make small changes in our daily lives to make a difference.

We’re in this together!

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