Artificial beaks save hornbills from extinction

Itanagar: In one of a few successful campaigns to save endangered bird species, fibre replicas of beaks of hornbills have saved the rare birds from imminent extinction in Arunachal Pradesh.

The beaks and feathers of hornbill, declared a `state bird` in Arunachal Pradesh, are prized by the Nyishi population in the state which they use for decorating their traditional headgears, called `pudum`.

It is mainly due to their killing of the beautiful and majestic birds that the population of the avian species has suffered a precipitous decline over the years, bringing them almost on the verge of extinction, forest officials think.

The state`s forest officials had almost given up on saving the birds till the state`s then deputy chief wildlife warden Chukhu Loma came up with the idea of fabricating fibre-made replicas of the beaks in 2000.

Loma in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India then sold the idea to the Nyishis of sparing the endangered birds by using the replicas.

Today a majority of the Nyishis have endorsed and supported Loma`s suggestion.

A conservationist, Loma, the former divisional forest officer of Pakke Tiger Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary (PTRWS) in East Kameng district, even now pursues his aim to protect endangered bird species and has retrieved about 500 original hornbill beaks.

Operating from his residence at Doimukh, he presents artificial beak, in exchange for the original, to those who promise to spread awareness about refraining from killing wildlife.