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#202 Helmeted Hornbill

Critically Endangered

Just in 2011 these were listed as near threatened, then by 2015 they were critically endangered. As a reminder, the classifications go as follows:

  • LC - Least Concern

  • NT - Near Threatened

  • VU - Vulnerable

  • EN - Endangered

  • CR - Critically Endangered

  • EW - Extinct in the Wild

  • EX - Extinct

There is also Not Evaluated, and Data Deficient, but those categories don't mean the animal would not qualify for one of the other classifications if the information was known.

The main reason for the drastic plummeting of population numbers is their helmet, called a casque. Unlike other hornbills the casque is solid, and is used as a sort of softer version of ivory. It is carved and a bit of a status symbol for the elite in China, and also sold to tourists as souvenirs. The helmeted hornbill will do a sort of jousting headbutt fight to claim the best trees. Unfortunately the trees they need to nest in are generally old growth, and are often illegally logged. They fight for the trees because they need a very specific tree for nesting in. They need a large hollow up high in a big tree, but it needs to have a spot for perching on right above the opening. The reason is, the female goes into the hollow, and she and the male (they mate for life) seal her into the hollow. They leave enough space for her beak to show through. Then, she lays one or two eggs, though only one chick survives. While she is in there, she molts and is unable to fly for a while even if she wanted to help. The male is responsible for feeding her and the chick for about 150 days. Their favourite food is figs. If the male is killed while the female is in the nest, she and the chick will also die. In one video I saw, one of the people at the forefront of trying to save these birds said he estimated that in 2013 about 6,000 of the birds were killed. There is an attempt to turn the poachers into protectors, but the call for their casques is incredibly high and now their numbers are extremely low.

Favourite foods, I can't fathom how anyone or anything would like figs, dates, or walnuts, but more power to them. As I mentioned yesterday, soup is my favourite food. I don't know if Tom Yum soup is my all time favourite soup, but that and Tom Kha are the ones I crave the most. I make a tortilla soup, chili, potato, pumpkin, and a whole lot of other soups too. I don't ever use recipes, but my family seems to love my cooking. Usually when I make something for someone in need, I make my tortilla soup. It is quick, easy, can be made vegan/vegetarian as well as being gluten free. I am the type who loves to feed people in need, whether they have a medical crisis or have lost family. I've made soup for quite a few people I've never met and probably never will. I think getting soup from someone who wants better for you is sort of like an edible hug. Soup is my comfort food. Before I was diagnosed with celiac I will admit that my comfort food was sourdough bread, and I would eat that over anything else. For a short while, a store here carried a gluten free sourdough. It was $10.00 for a very tiny loaf, about 1/3 the size of a normal loaf of bread. They did samples in the store one day though, and I literally cried because it had been so long since I'd had sourdough. They stopped carrying it, and I really couldn't afford it even when they had it, but I justified it a couple times. It was so yummy.

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