Hornbill gab slated for April 24-26

6th International Hornbill Conference

Dr. Joanne Justo, curator of the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation’s (NFEFI) Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC) in Bacolod City, will join other experts at the 6th International Hornbill Conference at the Ayala Museum and Asian Institute of Management, Makati City on April 24-26.

Organized by the Wild Bird Cub of the Philippines, Hornbill Research Foundation and Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, this is the first time the conference will be held in the Philippines.

While the conference topic may appear to be somewhat esoteric to some, Dr. Justo emphasized that these beautiful birds play a serious role in our ecology as they are important seed dispersers and more needs to be done to protect them.

“A number of species of hornbill are threatened with extinction including the two species that are found in Negros Island,” said Dr. Justo.

Visayan tarictic hornbill

“The Rufous-headed hornbill (Aceros waldeni) is considered one of the most threatened hornbill species in the world. It is only known or presumed to occur only in three islands – Panay, Negros and Guimaras. They are already presumed extinct in Guimaras and very small number remains in the other two islands”

The other species of hornbill found in Negros is the Visayan Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides panini).

The theme of the conference is ‘Hornbills and Caring Communities. Helping Forests to Thrive,’ reflecting the integral relationships between hornbills and ecological communities and the role they play in ensuring the sustainability of forests and providing ecosystem services.

Rufous-headed hornbill - critically endangered

Delegates from around the world will participate in the conference which aims to bring together people studying or interested in hornbills to present and share studies, information and conservation techniques.

Keynote speakers will be Dr. Pilai Poonswad from the Hornbill Research Foundation at Mahidol University in Bangkok and Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez, assistant professor at the Institute for Biological Sciences at UP Los Baños, Laguna.

Dr. Justo added that after the conference it is expected that a group of delegates will visit NFEFI where they will see the conservation center’s three species of hornbills and hear about local programs to protect and conserve these and other wildlife.