Poachers Target Rare Bird’s ‘Ivory’ Beak in Southeast Asia

Some call it “ivory on wings,” partial of a check of a critically involved bird in Southeast Asia that is sought by poachers and forged into ornaments for bootleg sale to Chinese buyers.

The helmeted hornbill isn’t removing as many courtesy as a beleaguered African elephant during a tellurian wildlife discussion this week in South Africa. But a murdering of elephants by a tens of thousands for their tusks is intertwined with a swell in a massacre of a singular bird whose check partial is a desired surrogate for ivory.

“It’s all partial of a rising direct for ivory,” pronounced Richard Thomas, orator for TRAFFIC, a charge organisation formed in Britain.

Poaching of a helmeted hornbill has soared given around 2010, quite in Indonesia. The timing roughly coincides with an boost in elephant poaching that has caused a pointy dump in elephant populations. Last year, a helmeted hornbill was designated as critically involved on an general “red list” of threatened species.

Delegates are deliberating protections for elephants, helmeted hornbills and other exposed wildlife during a assembly in Johannesburg of a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES . The 12-day assembly of a U.N. group, that regulates wildlife trade, ends Oct. 5.

The helmeted hornbill is a bird of lore, featuring in an ancient faith that it sits by a stream between life and death. Its feathers have been used in normal ceremonies. During breeding, a womanlike is hermetic into a nest, relying on a masculine to yield food.

The call of a helmeted hornbill is an intermittent, honking sound that solemnly builds in dash until it ends in what resembles, for some listeners, shrieks of laughter. Loud and long, a call helps poachers locate their prey.

In a CITES document , Indonesia asked for some-more partnership among law coercion agencies from countries where helmeted hornbills live, as good as “end market” nations — a anxiety essentially to China.

China, a world’s categorical ivory consumer, has already pronounced it skeleton to tighten a domestic ivory market.

A vast pile on tip of a check of a helmeted hornbill is done of keratin, a protein also found in rhino horn and other animal and tellurian parts. It has a red shade is softer than elephant ivory, creation it an appealing element for carvers who have fashioned belt buckles, tinge boxes, pendants and images of Chinese deities from it over many centuries.

The top partial of a bill, also famous as a casque, is solid, distinct a vale casques of other hornbill species. Its cost on a bootleg marketplace is aloft than that of elephant ivory. A casque weighs adult to 350 grams (0.7 pounds); a normal weight of an elephant spike is 5 kilograms (11 pounds), yet a large male’s spike can import 10 times as much.

At slightest 2,170 heads and check tools of helmeted hornbills were confiscated from a bootleg trade in Indonesia and China between 2012 and 2014, TRAFFIC said.

Investigators found helmeted hornbill products being sole plainly in Laos, a vital movement indicate for wildlife traffickers that borders China, according to a TRAFFIC report expelled this month. Sale locations enclosed a oppulance hotel and gathering core in executive Vientiane, a capital, it said.

Indonesia pronounced it has arrested some-more than 20 people in a helmeted hornbill trade and condemned many of them. Penalties embody adult to 5 years in jail and a complicated fine.

On Saturday, rangers in Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser National Park arrested a suspected helmeted hornbill poacher with a purloin and silencer, according to a Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS, a organisation formed in New York. The think had only entered a timberland and did not have any bird parts.

“This class needs to be on people’s radars,” pronounced Elizabeth Bennett, clamp boss of class charge during WCS.

Illegal logging in Indonesia is timorous a medium of a helmeted hornbill. Conservationists fear poachers will concentration on a Malaysian race once supply dries adult in Indonesia.

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Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter during www.twitter.com/torchiachris

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