The population of Sulu Hornbills is thought to be a shockingly small number of just 27 adults.
Historically, this species has been recorded on three Philippine islands: Jolo, Sanga Sanga and Tawi-tawi. Unfortunately, it is now thought to be locally extinct on two of these islands with recent records originating only from Tawi-tawi. Large swathes of forest on Tawi-tawi have been cut down to make way for palm oil and coconut plantations. Like most hornbills this species possesses a bony ‘casque’ which protrudes from the top of its bill. Despite its heavy-looking appearance this structure is quite light being made of thin, hollow bone cells. The Sulu Hornbill survives in isolated, continually degraded and fragmented patches of forest. Hunting pressure is thought to be on the increase, concentrated in these small remaining forest fragments. Only urgent conservation action and strict protection of habitat on Tawi-tawi can save this species from extinction.
- Order: Bucerotiformes
- Family: Bucerotidae
- Population: 27
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 70 cm
Endemic to the Philippines, specifically to the Sulu archipelago.
Habitat and Ecology
This species’ inhabits mid-montane primary forest, though this ‘preference’ may be forced due to the lack of lowland forest available on any of the islands. Incredibly little is known of the ecology of this species. The females require tall trees for nesting, and individuals have been observed visiting fruit-bearing trees over 1km form the site of primary forest.