On the occasion of World Environment Day, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Conservation India (CI), launched Hornbill Watch (www.hornbills.in), a citizen-science initiative to better understand Indian hornbills, the iconic forest birds that are fast disappearing along with their tropical forest habitat in India and other Asian countries. Hornbill Watch provides the spotlight on these species and allows users to contribute towards their conservation by sharing hornbill sightings and images. The site also provides updated information on Asian hornbills and the threats they face.

“These magnificent birds are “farmers of the forest” as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of many tropical trees and keep forests alive and growing. India has nine species of hornbills and most live in dense forests,” informed RohitNaniwadekar, wildlife biologist at the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF). “There is a lot of potentially useful information out there in people’s hard drives, memories and social media networks. By encouraging people to share these, we get to know where hornbills are found today which could help ensure a more secure future for them, at least in some places”, he added.
 
Conservation India (CI), the lead partner for the project, provides strategy, technology and media support to wildlife conservation organisations to implement citizen science and outreach programmes. “Successful citizen-science initiatives require creation and deployment of smart digital properties that aid public access, participation and engagement. Conservation India provides these complimentary skill sets to wildlife biologists and NGOs” says Ramki Sreenivasan, co-founder of Conservation India. “Hornbill Watch is a classic example. Users can read about hornbills and also contribute their sightings of these magnificent birds across India. It could be a sighting of a common Indian Grey Hornbill from the outskirts of Bangalore or the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill from Northeast India”, he added. 
 
Attracting close to 4 lakh visitors, Conservation India is India’s first and the largest portal for wildlife conservation that helps citizens take conservation action. CI works with a team of passionate and talented professionals who volunteer their services for such projects.
 
Making a contribution on Hornbill Watch (whether a sighting record or an image) is easy through the ‘Report your sighting” page. The data acquired is credited to the photographer. The uploaded images appear immediately in the gallery section and can be shared socially through the integrated Facebook plugin. The data generated would be summarized, analyzed and shared on the website periodically.The project is supported by the Whitley Fund for Nature, UK.
 
Here’s a look at some hornbills the team is planning to study and document.

 

1_KalyanVarma_Valparai_960x640Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

 

2_Male Oriental Pied Hornbill_Pakke_KalyanVarma_960x640Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris

 

3_Malabar-Pied-Hornbill_RamkiMalabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus

 

4_Indian-Grey-hornbill_RamkiIndian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris

 

5_Malabar-Grey-Hornbill_Ramki

Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus

6_WH5 flying Kalyan Varma NamdaphaWreathed Hornbill Rhyticeros undulatus

 

7_Narcondam-Hornbill Image by Dhritiman MukherjeeNarcondam Hornbill Rhyticeros narcondami

 

8_RNH1_Kalyan VarmaRufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis