Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Great Hornbill... let the real story be told!

It is a beautiful bird. Beautiful, large, elegant and impressive. It is one bird that has one of the most important place in the history of Nagaland. The Great Hornbill is perhaps best known for its beauty, alertness and grandeur. This one is the only bird that has had most profound significance in traditions of indigenous people of Nagaland from days immemorial. As the history goes the Nagas consider it as the king of birds and is revered as a symbol of courage. The feathers of this bird are used to be worn either by the chieftains in the yesteryears or worn by warriors of repute standing. 

That hunt for the feather, the horn and the meat in these times of diluted traditions has pushed the bird rapidly towards extinction. The situation is so bad that in the state of Nagaland the bird was known to be a common site half a century ago, and today there is officially only one surviving bird and that too in captivity in the Zoological park of Dimapur, Nagaland. The name of the bird is 'Julie' and my Blog Header is my tribute to the only living bird in the State. One article in 'eastern-today' describes the situation where this bird has been virtually eaten to extinction. If this is the state of 'icon' of a bird of Nagaland that figures in a million myths, fables, folklore, songs and dances then consider the state of birds that are nothing but a snack.
One of the lucky few birds to live their almost four odd decades of life span in the wild - living free...

Same bird as above...
The range of this magneficient bird...

My own experience in Nagaland has moved me to tears on many a occasions. Every household has guns for hunting. If guns appear common then consider a million air guns and catapults in every one's hand. I have not come across anything larger than a house sparrow in the state. Infact, other than my visit to Khonoma District - the state is devoid of bird songs. I remember a few days back when I heard an airgun being fired as I sipped my drinks at night in the resort where I stay while on the visit to the state. I got up and saw three people busy shooting down sparrows roosting on a tree with a torch and an airgun. I threatened them to stop, they did stop but I am of a firm belief that if the people of the state do not rise up to stop this tradition of hunting then the urge of years of tradition of hunting of an individual is so strong that he cannot help but shoot and 'pickle' every bird that comes this his sight.
Julie - the last living bird of Nagaland...

Coming back to the bird. Last I saw this bird was about decade and a half back in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary while I was posted in Siliguri. I desired to see this bird again but considering that it is not a common sight where I went birdwatching - I never ever came across this bird for last 15 years. Now I sighted it last month in Assam and took some great pictures of the bird in wild so here I am sitting down and writing this article. 

The bird is about 105 cm and that is a big bird. I remember the sound it makes flying - woosh - woosh with each flap of its wings carrying almost three and a half kg bird elegantly flying from one tree to another or crossing a valley. The distribution covers parts of Indian sub-continent and Burma, down to Thailand and Malaysia and East till Laos, Vietnam. It is non-migratory but require large tracts of evergreen forests upto roughly 2000 m. The status of this bird worldwide is Near Threatened (NT)
Naga Warriors and Hornbill feathers...
(Disclaimer: this picture is downloaded from the internet. If you knows whom I should give credits to please mail me)

Till the time the people of Nagaland realise what Ecological disaster they are creating by their hands, the traditions they so fiercely try and protect - God bless the state...

5 comments:

Indywrites said...

The HornBill is a beautiful bird, never seen it except in a zoo. I agree that it needs protection. Beautiful pictures, so vivid.

The new header is brilliant.

SRIRAM said...

Beautiful description

Phil Slade said...

Such a sad but familiar story. I remeber seeing hornbills in Malaysia but never I think one so large and beautiful. Only by telling such stories can we hope to influence people to enjoy and respect the animals of the world raather than to always exploit them. Thank you for this post. I hope it reaches far and wide.

David Gascoigne said...

27 February is my birthday. If I could have seen a Great Hornbill on that day it would have been about the best present I could imagine.

Sonal said...

Insightful information shared. One can also know the maharashtra association of schools of architecture only at SMMCA Nagpur. Thanks for sharing.