ANN/THE STAR – Illegal trading and deforestation have brought Helmeted Hornbills in Malaysia dangerously close to extinction.
They are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, meaning they are recorded as “critically endangered”.
There are only a handful of the birds left in the wild today, no thanks to the loss of their nesting sites or tree cavities. A tree cavity is formed in the trunk of an old tree.
However, due to logging activities, many of these tree cavities cannot be properly formed for the hornbills to nest in. Seeing this, a non-profit organisation called Wildlife Conservation Malaysia Xploregaia is working to restore natural cavities and build artificial nest boxes for the vulnerable species in Malaysia. One of the nest boxes that the organisation installed six years ago was a success as a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills utilised it and managed to nest in it.
This project, which was spearheaded by another NGO called Hutan, was recorded as the first successful nesting of wild hornbills in an artificial structure.
Xploregaia was founded in 2015 by ecologist Dr Ravinder Kaur and photographer Sanjitpaal Singh, with the aim of saving endangered hornbills in Sabah, Kedah and Terengganu. Recently, it teamed up with Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur to raise awareness on the nest box project, the Helmeted Hornbills and other endangered animals in Malaysia.
The hotel provides space for Xploregaia to showcase photographs of the majestic birds taken by the award-winning Sanjitpaal, as well helps to raise funds to support their conservation efforts.
The exhibition, not just showcases Sanjitpaal’s photos but also artworks from Malaysian wildlife artist Suzy Chua.