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The Great Hornbills and the Philippine Eagles: Two Majestic Birds in Peril

Asia is a continent rich in wildlife diversity, yet it is also the setting for some of the most critical conservation battles. Among the myriad of vulnerable species, the Great Hornbill and the Philippine Eagle are particularly noteworthy for their impressive size, stunning beauty, and profound cultural significance. Tragically, they are both under severe threats from habitat loss, hunting, and poaching and need urgent conservation efforts to ensure their survival.

The Great Hornbill: The King of the Forest

The Great Hornbill

With its majestic appearance and powerful voice, the Great Hornbill is a Bird that commands respect and awe. It belongs to the Hornbill family, known for their enormous bills and casques – a helmet-like structure that sits on top of the bill. The Great Hornbill has a striking contrast of black and white feathers, a bright yellow bill and casque, and a long brown crest that looks like a Lion’s mane. It is one of the largest and heaviest Asian Hornbills, reaching up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length and 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) in weight.

Inhabiting the dense forests of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Great Hornbill plays a crucial role in seed dispersal and ecosystem maintenance. It mainly feeds on fruits, but it also preys on small animals such as Rodents, Reptiles, and other Birds. The Bird’s loud, distinctive call resonates through the forest, serving as a means of communication with its mate and as a warning to other Hornbills of potential dangers.

During the breeding season, the female encloses herself within a tree cavity using mud and feces, leaving only a small opening for the male to feed her and their babies. While this behavior helps protect the eggs and young from predators, it also makes the Hornbills dependent on large and old trees for nesting.

The Great Hornbill is respected by many Asian indigenous tribes, who consider it a symbol of strength, fertility, and good luck. Some tribes use the feathers and casques of the Hornbills for ceremonial purposes, such as headdresses, ornaments, and musical instruments. They also believe that the Hornbills are the guardians of the forest and the spirits of their ancestors.

Yet, this has also led to the overexploitation of the Hornbills, as they are hunted for their body parts or captured for illegal wildlife trade. Habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, and urban development further endangers the Bird species. The Great Hornbill is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, and its population is estimated to be between 13,000 and 27,000 individuals.

The Philippine Eagle: The Monkey-Eating Eagle

The Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle is a critically endangered species of Eagle that lives only in the Philippines. It is also called the Monkey-Eating Eagle because it can snatch Monkeys right out of the trees with its massive size and strength. It has a beautiful brown and white plumage, a fluffy crest, and a bluish-gray beak and legs. This rare creature is one of the largest and most powerful Eagles in the world, standing over 3 feet (1 meter) tall and weighing up to 18 pounds (8 kilograms).

The Philippine Eagle resides in the forests of four major islands in the Philippines: Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. Besides Monkeys, it also feeds on Flying Lemurs, Civets, and other Mammals, as well as Birds, Reptiles, and Fish. With exceptional eyesight, it can detect prey from over half a mile away and hunts by soaring above the canopy before diving at speeds of 60 miles (100 kilometers) per hour to seize its prey with sharp talons.

The Eagle is also known for its cooperative hunting strategy with its partner – with one distracting the prey while the other attacks from behind. It is monogamous and mates for life. The couple constructs a large nest in a tall tree, where the female lays a single egg every two years. The chick remains with its parents for about two years, mastering the skills needed to hunt and survive.

With fewer than 500 left, the Philippine Eagle is one of the world’s most endangered Birds. The destruction of its forest home and the dangers of hunting pose a dire threat to its existence. It is a race against time to save this magnificent Bird and the wild space it depends on for survival.

The Great Hornbill and the Philippine Eagle are two of Asia's most awe-inspiring and charismatic Birds but also two of the most imperiled. They face numerous threats from human activities that ravage their forest homes and from hunting and poaching that decimate their populations. Protecting these Birds is essential for their continued survival and the preservation of their splendor for future generations.

Asia Wild is committed to rescuing and protecting the welfare of Asian animals worldwide. We support organizations rescuing animals from abuse and captivity, preventing illegal wildlife trade and trafficking, and promoting global conservation and sustainability efforts. We aim to create a world where all animals can thrive, free from harm and exploitation.


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