Hornbills are a family of birds which are found across Africa and Asia. There are over 55 species, all of which have large bills often surmounted by a helmet or casque.

These species have a variety of different conservation statuses, although sadly the common trend is that most populations are decreasing. Species such as the Sulu hornbill, helmeted hornbill and rufous-headed hornbill are all classed as critically endangered. The Sulu hornbill's wild population is thought to have fewer than 50 individuals remaining.

All hornbills are seed dispersers, and so play an important role in maintaining a healthy environment. Therefore, if any species were to go extinct, then those ecosystems would suffer as a result.



Habitat loss (palm oil, timber harvesting, farming, urban development and mining).

Illegal wildlife trade (casques, meat and medicine).

Climate change.


To find out in more detail about these threats, go to the IUCN's page here and select the species of hornbill that you want to find out more information on.


It's safe to say that action is needed to ensure a future for wild hornbills. Below, we've come up with individual ways in which we can create a better future for them:

 The first and most obvious is to donate to conservation efforts. This is the best thing you can do to help secure a future for hornbills. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the conservation organisations that we recommend.

The majority of hornbills depend on trees for both food and shelter. As they are such big birds, when it comes to nesting, hornbills require large natural cavities which can only be found in old trees, which are being cut down at an alarming rate for products in the western world. We can try to prevent this by opting for products more sustainably:

Logging for paper and timber products is one of the main drivers of this deforestation. Opting for sustainably sourced, or better yet second-hand, products made from wood are both brilliant ways to help combat this problem. You could also take a look at our Paper Problems page for tips on how to cut down on paper usage.

TOP TIP: Palm oil is the other main reason for this deforestation. Palm oil is a complicated issue and boycotting it may well not be the best solution for the planet. Opting for sustainable palm oil is certainly a step in the right direction, find out more here.

Hornbill habitat is also cleared to make way for coffee plantations. Only opting for sustainably produced coffee is a great way to prevent this happening. Look out for the Rainforest Alliance logo shown below. It should be printed on the packaging of coffee which has been produced sustainably.


The wildlife trade poses a big threat to hornbills, particularly the critically endangered helmeted hornbill. Refusing to buy products made from exotic animals is a great way to help protect hornbills and other wildlife.

Climate change could also be causing disruption to hornbill habitat. A practical way to help is to take action to prevent climate change. Have a look at our page here if you wish to find out individual ways of how to do so.

Signing petitions is another great way to bring about positive change. Scroll down to the next section to find online petitions, which we recommend signing to help protect hornbills.

The most adventurous way to help may be travelling to Asia or Africa to see hornbills in the wild. Going on wildlife watching trips is a great way of letting the government of that country know that protecting its wildlife is important. It's also a great way to learn more about hornbill conservation.

If you do see hornbills in the wild, it's important not to feed them. This is so that they don't become reliant on human food which could take them away from the important job they do as seed dispersers.

If travelling doesn't appeal, or isn't a realistic option for you, then many places around the world keep hornbills in captivity. It's important to know that although it's exciting to see wild animals up close, their well-being in a cage is certainly questionable. If you really want to see a hornbill in captivity then our guidance would be that with that desire to see one, you also have the desire to learn more about how we can protect them in the wild. Using advice from this page, or that you learn elsewhere, we encourage you to take some action to protect wild hornbills. If you want to visit a hornbill in captivity then we recommend that you do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is supporting hornbill conservation with its profits.

Volunteering your time is another great way to help with hornbill conservation. PhilinCon require volunteer help for their work with the critically endangered rufous-headed hornbill. You can find the details to write to them to find out more here.

Another way to help is to shop for products which support hornbill conservation:


Our founder, Chad Killoran, has a website selling prints of his artwork. If you're interested, you could buy prints or children's clothing featuring his Rhinoceros hornbill design, shown below, and a percentage of the profit goes towards Gaia's Kinabatangan Hornbill Project.

Rhinoceros Hornbill T-shirt Promo 2.png
Rhinoceros Hornbill - On The Lookout (C)
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Birdlife International's online shop sells t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags, with profits supporting the organisation's numerous bird conservation projects around the world.

If you shop with Amazon then you could use AmazonSmile. It's the same as Amazon only when you shop they donate a percentage of the profit to a charity you choose, at no extra cost to you! If you're based in the United Kingdom, you could go to the UK site and select the Birdlife International as your chosen charity. If you're based in the US, you could go to the US site and choose American Friends of Birdlife International, Inc. as your chosen charity in order to support hornbill conservation.

One of the best ways to help is to spread the word about this page and what you've learnt about the challenges facing hornbills. Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem! 


Signing the following petitions is a great way to bring about positive change for hornbills:

Rainforest Rescue's petition is calling upon the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and China to properly enforce the ban on poaching the critically endangered helmeted hornbill.

Rainforest Rescue's petition is urging First Resources Ltd to stop destroying Borneo's coastal forest, home to many threatened species including hornbills.

Roshni Ali's petition is appealing to Indian officials to stop plans for a hydropower project in Dibang Valley, an area home to wildlife such as the rufous-necked hornbill.

Roja Barooah's petition is urging Indian officials to stop plans to allow coal mining in the Dehing Patkai protected area, home to four species of hornbill.

#EndTheTrade Coalition's petition is calling on our world’s governments to permanently end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals worldwide.

Global Deal for Nature's petition is appealing to world leaders to protect 50% of our lands and oceans.


The following organisations are carrying out essential work to ensure a future for wild hornbills:

PhilinCon's main objective is the protection, preservation, and rehabilitation of the Philippines’ few remaining forests and endangered endemic plants and wildlife, including the critically endangered rufous-headed hornbill.

Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project is working to stop the decline of Southern ground hornbills in South Africa.

Hornbill Research Foundation study the thirteen hornbill species found in Thailand and runs community-based conservation programs.

Nature Conservation Foundation carries out wildlife research and conservation in India, including the nine species of hornbill found in the country. They also have a program by which you can adopt a nest, in order to help protect where the hornbills can breed. If you're interested you can find out more here.

APNR Ground Hornbill Project's mission is to research and conserve the threatened ground hornbills of South Africa.

Malaysian Nature Society's vision is for Malaysia’s natural heritage and rich biological diversity to be effectively protected, managed and conserved, including the species of hornbill found in the country.

Birdlife International is the leading organisation in worldwide bird conservation. There are over 100 Birdlife partners in various countries around the world protecting birds, including many species of hornbill.

The Haribon Foundation advocates biodiversity conservation through building constituencies, empowering communities and applying multi-disciplinary research. Their conservation work includes that of the dulungan hornbill and rufous hornbill.

If you know of any more ways in which we can create a better future for hornbills, then please get in contact with your suggestions!