Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Like many other hornbills (5), the Narcondam hornbill feeds mainly on fruit, with figs making up the majority of the diet (2). Their impressive beaks are used to reach ripe fruit, which is then tossed back into the gullet (5). At fruiting trees, groups consisting of up to 50 Narcondam hornbills may congregate (2). In addition to their curious beaks, hornbills are noted for their peculiar breeding habits (4). During the breeding season, which extends between February and April, and following mating, female Narcondam hornbills squeeze into tree cavities, between 2 and 16 metres above the ground (2). The female then uses her own droppings to seal herself within the cavity, leaving only a thin slit open (4). Within this self-made prison, the female will remain for the duration of egg-laying and chick-rearing, leaving the male responsible for foraging and returning to the nest to feed the female through the narrow slit by regurgitation (2). During this time, the female also sheds her flight feathers and is incapable of flight (7). Narcondam hornbills usually lay two eggs, generally around ten days apart (2).
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Description

With striking looks and unusual breeding habits, hornbills are fascinating birds (4). The Narcondam hornbill is a fairly small hornbill species, with a black body and distinct short, white tail. The sexes differ in appearance, with the larger male Narcondam hornbills having rufous plumage on their head, neck, and upper breast, whereas the females are black. The grand bill is yellowish-white with a dark crimson base (2), and atop the bill sits a horny ridge, or casque, a unique feature of all hornbills (4). The casque of the Narcondam hornbill has a wrinkled appearance and is coloured yellow and dark brown. The bare skin around the eye and on the throat is bluish-white. Juveniles are similar in appearance to males, but have smaller bills with no casque (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Aceros narcondami is endemic to the tiny (6.82 km2) island of Narcondam, east of the Andaman Islands, India. In 1998, the population was estimated at 295-320 birds and stable, including an estimated 68-85 breeding pairs, while during fieldwork in 2000, the population was estimated to be 432 individuals (Yahya and Zarri 2002), and in 2003, Vivek and Vijayan (2003) reported 320-340 individuals; these figures may indicate that the number of mature individuals is fewer than 250 (Kinnaird and O'Brien 2007).

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Range

Lowland forests of Narcondam I. (Andaman Islands).

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Range

Inhabits Narcondam Island, one of the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is resident in fairly open mixed forest, which covers most of the island, from sea-level to the peak at c.700 m, although the majority of nests are below 200 m (Vijayan 2009). It uses mature, undisturbed forests with large trees for nesting and roosting. The species nests in holes on the trunk or broken branches of large trees and the female is sealed into a nest-cavity for the duration of egg-laying and chick-rearing (the breeding period spanning at least from February until April). At this time, the female sheds her flight feathers and is incapable of flight. Each pair generally raise two young. Breeding birds are over four years old and constitute c.46-53% of the population (Vijayan 2009). Nine species of fruits have been recorded in the diet (Yahya and Zarri 2002) as well as invertebrates and occasionally small reptiles (Vijayan 2009).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Narcondam hornbill inhabits fairly open, mixed evergreen and deciduous forest, which covers most of the island, and dense bush. It can be found from the coast up to the island's summit at 750 metres (2).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
D

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Sivakumar, K.

Justification
This hornbill is listed as Endangered because it is suspected that its very small population, which is restricted to one tiny island, consists of fewer than 250 mature individuals. Its population appears to be stable despite some degree of hunting and habitat degradation.


History
  • 2012
    Endangered
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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number 320-340 individuals, based on an area of habitat of 6 km2. This is interpreted by Kinnaird and O'Brien (2007) to equate to fewer than 250 mature individuals, and so the population is placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
A small police outpost was established on the island in 1969. Two or three hectares of forest have been lost to the creation of the post and a plantation of fruit trees and vegetable plots. At least 10 living trees are cut each year for fuel wood for the camp and further wood is cut periodically for maintenance purposes. The proposed installation of communication structures on the island could further reduce the habitat of this species and cause disturbance during the construction phase (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2012) . The introduction of domestic animals also poses a potential threat. Previously up to 400 feral goats were living on the island and limiting natural forest regeneration, but most have now been removed (Yahya and Zarri 2002). A sizeable population of feral cats occurs which may pose a threat to the species. Hunting for food results in an estimated annual loss of 25-40 birds (Islam and Rahmani 2010), but this is not a serious threat given its high levels of recruitment. Its small population and tiny range make it susceptible to natural disasters and disease.

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Narcondam Island covers an area of only seven square kilometres (6), and thus the population of Narcondam hornbills is intrinsically small (2). Small populations restricted to tiny areas are always incredibly vulnerable to the impacts of any threats that may befall them. The most immediate threat the Narcondam hornbill faces is habitat deterioration (2). In 1969, a small police outpost was established on the island, leading to the loss of forest to create the post, a plantation of fruit trees, and vegetable plots (2) (7), and further trees are cut each year for firewood and intermittent maintenance purposes (7). Goats were also introduced to the island and their grazing has now eliminated most of the undergrowth and seedlings (2), significantly reducing natural forest regeneration (7). Feral cats, also introduced, are now abundant, but their impact on the Narcondam hornbill is not yet known (2), and around 25 to 40 Narcondam hornbills are thought to be hunted each year, although this is not believed to be a serious threat given the rate of breeding (2) (7). Nature brings its own problems for the Narcondam hornbill; the small, restricted population is susceptible to both disease and natural disasters, such as cyclones, which can fell large and important nesting trees (7).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and Narcondam Island is a wildlife sanctuary. Goats have been removed, although local reports suggest this may not have been completely successful (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2012). Strict instructions not to hunt the species have been issued to the personnel on the island. In 1992, the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) began preliminary surveys of the avifauna on the Andaman Islands, with an emphasis on several target species, including Narcondam Hornbill.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the population regularly. Completely remove all remaining goats from the island (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2012). Provide cooking fuel to the island's inhabitants to eliminate their requirement for fuelwood. Carefully investigate the possibility of establishing a second population on another suitable island in the Andamans in case of a serious population decline or natural disaster. Consider providing nest boxes to increase the availability of nest sites. Plant additional fig trees to encourage forest regeneration. Reduce illegal hunting through environmental education and strict enforcement of the Wildlife Protection Act. Develop a long-term species recovery plan (K. Sivakumar in litt. 2008).

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Conservation

Narcondam Island has been declared a wildlife sanctuary and the police personnel on the island have been given strict instructions not to hunt the threatened hornbill (7). However, to ensure the long-term survival of the Narcondam hornbill, stricter conservation measures are required. As a priority, all introduced species, especially goats, should be removed from the island (2), and cooking fuel should be provided to the island's inhabitants to eliminate their need for fuelwood (7). To lessen the threat of natural disasters, it has been recommended that the possibility of establishing a second population on a nearby island should be investigated (7).
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Wikipedia

Narcondam hornbill

The Narcondam hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami) is a species of hornbill in the Bucerotidae family. It is endemic to the Indian island of Narcondam in the Andamans. Males and females have distinct plumages.

Description[edit]

Head of a female (C P Cory, 1901)

The Narcondam hornbill is a small hornbill at 66 cm (26 in) long.[2] The sexes differ in plumage. The male has a rufous head and neck, black body and upper parts glossed with green. Females are all black. There is a bluish white neck patch and the tail is white in both sexes. Both sexes have a bill with a few folds on the upper side towards the base of the upper mandible. The skin around the eye is bluish. The iris of the male is orange red while the female has an olive brown with a pale yellow ring. The bill is waxy and the furrows of the casque are brownish. The bill is pinkish towards the base. The legs are black and the sole is yellow.[2][3]

Adults have a ka- ka- ka call in flight and a ko ... kokoko..ko..kok.. kok.. call at the nest. The young in the nest produce feeble chew calls. Courtship involves ritual feeding. They sometimes mob white-bellied sea eagles that fly too close. The favoured nesting trees are Sideroxylon and Sterculia species.[4][5]

The species was described by Allan Octavian Hume in 1873.[6]

Narcondam hornbill photographed in 2010

Distribution and status[edit]

The entire population (estimate of about 200 birds in 1905[7] and 1984) is restricted to the single island of Narcondam in the Andaman Island chain. The island is clothed in forests and rises to a height of about 2300 feet above sea level. It is largely devoid of human presence.[8] The island is often hit by cyclonic storms in the Bay of Bengal. In 2000, an estimate of 434 birds was made for the population, with a density of 54[9] to 72 birds per square kilometre on the island, which has an area of about 6.8 square kilometres.[10] Some human presence on the island has also been noted. Since 2009 the Narcondam hornbill has had a Conservation status of endangered.[11] A nest site density of 2.8 pairs per square kilometer has been estimated.[12] Nine species of fruits have been recorded in the diet.[13]

Birds have been maintained in captivity but have not bred. In 1972, S. A. Hussain visited Narcondam Island and captured two adult hornbills and their chicks. The two chicks were taken to Bombay after the male died during the voyage and the female escaped in Madras, never to be found again. The chicks grew and lived for about 6 years but with age, the female showed increasing aggression towards the male sibling, eventually injuring him so badly that he died.[4]

The island of Narcondam has in the past been largely unpopulated. Goats were introduced several times on the island in the past, and a visit in 1991 revealed that feral goats had proliferated around an old police outpost. In 2011 there was a proposal by the Indian Coast Guard to erect a radar station and a diesel power generation station for it on the island. This was opposed due to the threats of increased human activity and disturbance and the threat to a number of endemic island species, including the hornbill. The plan was finally cancelled by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2012.[14][15] However, in the wake of the Chinese monitoring activity in Myanmar's neighbouring Coco Island, the nod for the listening station was granted in June 2014. [16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Aceros narcondami. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b Ali, S & SD Ripley (1983). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 4 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 139. 
  3. ^ Cory,CP (1902). "Some further notes on the Narcondam Hornbill Rhytidoceros narcondami". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 14 (2): 372. 
  4. ^ a b Hussain,SA (1984). "Some aspects of the biology and ecology of Narcondam Hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 81 (1): 1–18. 
  5. ^ Blanford, WT (1896). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 3. Taylor and Francis, London. p. 149. 
  6. ^ Hume AO (1873). "Novelties". Stray Feathers 1: 411. 
  7. ^ Osmaston, BB (1905). "A visit to Narcondam". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 16 (4): 620–622. 
  8. ^ St. John J H (1898). "Some notes on the Narcondam hornbill, Etc. (Rhytidoceros narcondami)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 12: 212–214. 
  9. ^ SACON. "Roosting ecology and diet of the Narcondam Hornbill Aceros narcondami at Narcondam Island Sanctuary, A & N Islands, India". Annual Report 2002-2003. Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. pp. 11–12. 
  10. ^ Yahya, H. S. A.; Zarri, A. A. (2002). "Status, ecology and behaviour of Narcondam Hornbill (Aceros narcondami) in Narcondam Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India". J Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 99 (3): 434–445. 
  11. ^ Hussain,SA (1991). "Some urgent considerations for the conservation of Narcondam Island". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 31 (5&6): 6. 
  12. ^ Datta, A & GS Rawat; Rawat (2004). "Nest-site selection and nesting success of three hornbill species in Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India: Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus and Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris". Bird Conservation International 14: S39–S52. doi:10.1017/S0959270905000213. 
  13. ^ Yahya, H. S. A.; Zarri, A. A. 2002. Status, ecology and behaviour of Narcondam hornbill (Aceros narcondami) in Narcondam Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99: 434-445.
  14. ^ "Permission for installation of Coastal surveillance RADAR and power supply source at Narcondam Island Sanctuary, Reg.". Ministry of Environment and Forests. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Raman, T. R. Shankar; Mudappa, Divya; Khan, Tasneem; Mistry, Umeed; Saxena, Ajai; Varma, Kalyan; Ekka, Naveen; Lenin, Janaki; Whitaker, Romulus (2013). "An expedition to Narcondam: observations of marine and terrestrial fauna including the island-endemic hornbill". Current Science 105 (3): 346–350. 
  16. ^ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/environment/developmental-issues/green-nod-for-radar-station-at-narcondam-in-andamans/articleshow/36411949.cms
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