Award-winning wildlife photographer KA Dhanuparan remembers the “particular second” when he caught a primary glimpse of the Narcondam hornbill with its velvet-black plumage and over-sized yellow beak.

An endangered species, the hen is endemic to the Narcondam Island in Andamans. It’s the place Dhanuparan headed to on a two-day birding and pictures journey to doc its nesting exercise.

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“From Havelock island, it took us eight hours to achieve Narcondam. First, I noticed a male hen with a distinguished rufous head and neck, after which a feminine hen that was totally black. Quickly, they got here out in a whole bunch. They had been flying and feeding on berries and fruits from tall bushes,” he says.

Nonetheless, entry to the tiny, dormant volcanic island of Narcondam, which spans an space of 6.8, is restricted, since it’s a protected habitat for the hornbills. It’s maintained by the Division of Setting and Forests of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Parenting by instance

The hornbills are role-model mother and father and still have distinctive nesting habits. Says birder K Selvaganesh, an English trainer on the Cinchona Authorities Excessive College in Valparai, “The hornbills construct nests on tree cavities. Whereas incubating, the feminine seals the nest with droppings, mud and fruit pulp. A small slit is left open for the male to go on the feed each few hours to the mom and the chicks.”He provides: “Although the birds are frugivores that primarily eat fruits and berries, throughout breeding, the males additionally convey bugs, worms, owl kills, big squirrels and rats to fulfill the excessive protein requirement of the chicks. I’ve seen the male Nice hornbill clutching over 60 to 70 ficus berries in its mouth to feed its household. It’s a position mannequin in parenting.”

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Dhanuparan’s self-proclaimed love for photographing hornbills led him to Narcondam. To this point, he has captured the Malabar gray hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill (each endemic to the Western Ghats), the Nice hornbill and the Indian gray hornbill.

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His photograph of a Nice hornbill, seated on a tree with its magnificent wings outstretched reverse a Nilgiri langur, earned him a runner-up spot within the Pure Historical past Museum’s Younger Wildlife Photographer of the Yr competitors in 2017. One other photograph of a Nice hornbill holding a prey in its beak made it to the quilt of Sanctuary Asia journal in 2013. “I spent two days on the island photographing the hen. Entry to the island is restricted as a result of it’s a extremely protected habitat,” says Dhanuparan.

Cusp of extinction

Shirish Manchi of Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Pure Historical past, in a YouTube uploads on conservation, explains how Narcondam hornbills confronted risk of extinction because of habitat loss and searching. If not for concerted conservation efforts, it will have been unattainable to spice up their numbers from a mere 360 birds in 1999 to over a thousand now.

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Chasing trails Narcondam Hornbill; (beneath) KA Dhanuparan
| Photograph Credit score:
Dhanu Paran

But, habitat destruction stays the most important risk to hornbills world wide, based on Nilgiris-based birder Aggal Sivalingam, the place Nice hornbills could be seen in locations like Mulli in Coonoor, Mamaram in Kotagiri and in Masinagudi.“They want tall fruiting bushes for nesting and breeding. Their calls are loud and aggressive, particularly to ship an alarm to the flock once they spot birds of prey,” he says.The Narcondam hornbill is smaller in measurement and isn’t loud, in contrast to its cousins, factors out Dhanuparan. Nonetheless, being endemic to an remoted, uninhabited island, the Narcondam hornbill nonetheless faces the specter of extinction within the occasion of a pure calamity inflicting a species wipe-out.

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“These two days with the birds had been unforgettable. I hope they’re there once I return sometime,” provides Dhanuparan, who’s presently on the Anamalai Tiger Reserve filming its bio-diversity.

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