Recently a study based on satellite data has shown a high rate of deforestation in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam has posed a major threat to the hornbill habitats in the area. India is home to nine species of hornbills. The northeastern region has the highest diversity of hornbill species within India while the magnificent Great Hornbill, every bird-photographer’s delight, is also the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
The satellite data pointed to alarming deforestation rates in Papum RF with annual loss rates as high as 8.2 sq.km. as per estimates from 2013-2017 where forest cover declined to 76% of the total RF area. Aording to the Global Forest Watch 2020 report, Arunachal Pradesh lost 1,110 sq.km. of primary forest from 2002-2019. One of the primary reasons the forests are under pressure, are the agricultural expansion and illegal logging and ethnic conflict.
Around 26 out of 62 species of this magnificent bird are globally threatened now. Also, referred to as ‘forest engineers’ or ‘farmers of forest’ for playing a key role in dispersing seeds of tropical trees and indicate the prosperity and balance of the forest they build nests in, the Hornbills are the integral part of the eco-system , culture and beauty of the forests. Systematic steps and state level planning in coordination with the experts and civic authorities are pre requisites to stop the species from the threat of extinction.