Rare find of baby hornbill in Sarawak's town area

Rare find of baby hornbill in Sarawak's town area
Protected species: Lai holding the baby hornbill which was found by a houseowner at Jalan Pedada.

SIBU, Malaysia - With the population of Sarawak's iconic hornbill slowly depleting, seeing the bird in the town area is certainly an eye-popping happening.

Nature lover Lai Lee Siew, who holds a "Friends of the Forestry Department" certificate said it is extremely unusual to find a hornbill in a concrete jungle and especially in a densely human populated area.

He was, therefore, surprised when a houseowner at Jalan Pedada called him on Thursday to say he had stumbled upon a baby hornbill on the upper-floor verandah of his two-storey home.

The bird did not put up any struggle when the man walked up to catch it.

Lai, who is licensed to catch exotic animals, including those deemed protected species, said he would keep the captured hornbill in a cage for a few days before surrendering the bird, together with several pythons and cobras, to the Forestry Department.

"I am feeding it with fruits, such as banana and papaya," he said, disclosing that the bird is one of eight types of hornbill listed in the department and variedly known as the Asian Black Hornbill, Malaysian Black or Black Hornbill.

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Its scientific name is Anthracoceros malayanus.

A medium-sized bird would be about 75cm long, with white-tipped outer tail feathers and proportionally large casque (the bird's helmet-like head covering). The male birds, sometimes, have a white stripe from its eye to the nape.

The Black Hornbill is a rather uncommon sight in lowland primary and logged forests or in swamp forests. It is, like other exotic animals and birds, listed under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.

It is an offence to keep them and for this one can face up to RM25,000 fine and two years jail.

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