Helmeted Buceros vigil and rhinoceros B. rhinoceros hornbills are large, conspicuous birds in the forests of northern Borneo. Both are of enormous importance in local culture, being the subject of legends, ceremonies and beliefs. Tail feathers of both species are used in traditional costumes and dancing. Both are also hunted for their meat. Changes in access, technology and rural lifestyles mean that hunting is causing populations to decline or become locally extinct. The birds breed slowly and occur at low natural densities. Thus, hunting levels must be extremely low to be sustainable. A single team of traditional dancers uses about 400 rhinoceros hornbill feathers, which involves killing 40 birds. To hunt these sustainably, and to re-supply new feathers every five years, about 205 km2 of forest is needed. Hunting levels currently exceed this in almost all forests in northern Borneo. A series of measures is needed to ensure that these birds survive in Borneo's forests, and not just in legend and in the form of a few decaying artefacts.
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