Hornbills and people: building an alliance for conservation in North Bengal, India

Karishma Pradhan

Hornbills are indicators of the health of a forest ecosystem, but globally they are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation and hunting. The North Bengal region in India (part of the Himalaya global biodiversity hotspot) harbours four species, three of which are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Hornbills here are affected by anthropogenic threats exacerbated by high human population density. The aim of this project is to understand people’s dependence on natural resources and attempt to mitigate these pressures through increased awareness and community-led conservation strategies. Integrating social science methods, we aim to understand the socio-economic status and resource dependency of local communities, their livelihood skills and perception and attitudes towards hornbills. This work will be carried out in ten villages in Buxa Tiger Reserve and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Following a better understanding, the team will then engage with various stakeholders - community members, nature guides, frontline forest staff, teachers and school students through training and nature-based outreach activities. A final product will be a collectively designed site-specific hornbill conservation plan through a multi-stakeholder workshop. The project will strengthen hornbill conservation in the region and will bridge the gap between wildlife conservation and community participation.

Watch the project video to find out more: