Updated map reveals scale of trade in threatened hornbills

This week, the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) continues in Johannesburg with the fate of many species in the balance dependent partly on the decisions made over the next two weeks by the 183 parties.

Among the myriad of species whose status in the wild is threatened is the helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil), a CITES-listed Appendix 1 species since 1975.  Despite the listing, the largest hornbill species in South-East Asia – a bird with a unique solid bill or “casque” – has undergone significant and rapid population decline across its range in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Due to an unprecedented rise in poaching in recent years to sustain a burgeoning international trade and ongoing habitat loss, the future of the helmeted hornbill in the wild is at risk.

At CITES CoP17 is agenda item 69 “Illegal trade in Helmeted Hornbill”. Tabled by Indonesia, this resolution encourages all parties, especially consumer and range states, to improve current levels of protection and prevention of trade for the helmeted hornbill through legislative, enforcement and awareness-raising means, in light of recent population collapse across much of its habitat range.

EIA and TRAFFIC have combined seizure records for hornbill casques occurring over the past six years from 2010-16 and plotted them on an interactive map. Although only representing a fraction of the trade, this will hopefully show its regional nature with key import and export hubs for casques highlighted and will be showcased at CoP 17 at a side event today (September 27) in support for greater investment in and awareness of the plight of the helmeted hornbill.

EIA encourages all CITES Parties to support this proposal.

You can find and explore the updated map of illegal trade in helmeted hornbill products here.