The UK-based Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) is a partnership that brings together three renowned international conservation organizations: Birdlife International, Fauna & Flora International, and Wildlife Conservation Society. For 30 years, the CLP has been instrumental in providing project funding and training to early-career conservation professionals from developing countries who are tackling conservation challenges. This year, our PhD student, Ms. Ravinder Kaur and her team are winners of the Future Conservationist Award for the project entitled The Conservation of Borneon Hornbills in Malaysia.
Her story was recently featured in the STAR newspaper on 28th June, 2017. Interestingly, Ms. Kaur's husband, Sanjitpaal Singh, is a professional and award-winning wildlife photographer. Together, they explore the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, a regenerating forest where the population of the critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) and near-threatened Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) are declining. Being secondary hole-nesters, hornbills do not create tree cavities. Hence, their population is limited by the availability of suitable tree cavities, food plants and roosting sites. Due to their heavy casques, the Helmeted hornbills require protruding cavities as their perch. They are also hunted for their "red ivory" in neighboring countries.
The loss of suitable natural cavities is a direct threat to the long-term survival of the hornbills. Hence, the purpose of this project is to provide breeding opportunities for the hornbills. Nest cavities will be located using plots (systematic sampling) and subsequently evaluated and restored accordingly (e.g soil added to raise a sunken cavity floor). In addition, artificial nest boxes will be tested, developed and installed to provide more breeding opportunities for the hornbills.
Ms. Kaur's supervisor is Associate Professor Dr. Rosli Ramli. We hope their noble effort to conserve the hornbills would be successful. Congratulations on the award!