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Ex-poachers and villagers help to save endangered hornbill species

Hornbill birds in the Khao Yai and Budo-Sungai Pai National Parks (Thailand) have been experiencing higher fledgling rates than before! The reason for this rise in numbers is down to community conservation; the act of involving local communities in the protection of species sharing their environment. Aka, community engagement!

Great, wreathed, helmeted, bushy-crested, rhinoceros, white-crowned, and oriental pied hornbills were under great threat from poaching. They were also found to be rather picky about their nesting sites and would abandon them if they were unsuitable (flooded and/or had too many openings).

Oriental pied hornbill

To combat this issue, and help increase hornbill population inclines, conservationists invited local poachers and villagers who shared the forest with the hornbills to become research assistants!

Poachers were selected to protect the animals they once poached as they have the best knowledge of where the animals can be found, what their activity budgets are, and what times of day are best to locate them. This new career option also removes active poachers from the area and puts them to good use. The conservationists who began this program paid the new workers wages with the money raised from a hornbill adoption scheme.

The newly-turned conservationists began to monitor the hornbills and their nests, and modified nests that were considered unsuitable by the hornbills. Soon enough the hornbills began to use the modified nests and due to the reduced threat of poaching, fledgling numbers increased. The hornbills of Thailand are now doing well, and the converted poachers are now involved with important and incredibly moral work that is conservation.

#ConservationIs community engagement! What is conservation to you?

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