Oriental pied hornbills making comeback

Recently, there has been an increase in sightings of the oriental pied hornbills.

These frugivores with their black-white plumage and large casques on their beaks are native to Singapore and are currently listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species here.

While these birds used to be sighted mainly in the eastern parts of the island, like in Pulau Ubin and Changi, they now appear to have dispersed to the western part of Singapore.

These sightings indicate that the number of these once-rare birds is increasing, and that they are adapting to the more urbanised landscape of Singapore.

Much of our native wildlife, like the hornbills, has suffered from Singapore's rapid development and shrinking primary forests.

The challenge for the authorities has been to find a balance between development and conservation.

The more frequent sightings of these hornbills suggest that the authorities may have found this balance.

It also shows the success of conservation efforts in Singapore, as projects to repopulate the hornbills played a significant role in the recovery of the species.

It is indeed something for the country to celebrate.

Alastair Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'Oriental pied hornbills making comeback'. Print Edition | Subscribe