The Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) is a species of hornbill in the northeastern Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Numbers have declined significantly due to habitat loss and hunting, and it has been entirely extirpated from Nepal. It is estimated that there are now less than 10,000 adults remaining. With a length of about 117 centimetres (46 in), it is among the largest Bucerotine hornbills. The underparts, neck and head are rich rufous in the male, but black in the female.
The head, neck, and lower body of the male are coloured rufous, with deeper colouration on the flanks and abdomen. The middle primaries and the lower half of the tail are tipped white. The rest of the hornbill's plumage is a glossy dark-green and black. The lower tail-covert feathers are coloured chestnut mixed with black.
The female, on the other hand, is black, except for the end-portion of her tailand the tips of the middle primaries, which are white. Juvenile hornbills resemble adults of the same sex, but lack the ridges at the base of the upper beak.
The beak lacks a true caique but is thickened at its base. It has a number of dark ridges on the upper beak which are absent in the young and increase in number with age up to about seven. The commissure of the beaks is broken for both sexes.
Of all hornbills, this species has the northern-most extent, formerly ranging across the mountains from Nepal to Vietnam, but which is now restricted to north-eastern India, Bhutan, Burma, south-eastern Tibet, northern and western Thailand, northern Laos and northern Vietnam.
- Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Manas National Park, Assam.
- Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal.
- Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal.
- Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Pakke Tiger Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
The western limit of the Rufous-necked Hornbill is the Mahananda National Park in West Bengal.
Kinnaird and O'Brien (2007) have tabulated data for the hornbills of the world and report that Rufous-necked Hornbills range over 1,163,811 km2 (449,350 sq mi) of area, of which 825,837 km2 (318,857 sq mi) of area are forested. Within this area, Rufous-necked Hornbills occur in 90 protected areas comprising 54,955 km2 (21,218 sq mi) of protected forest but only including 7% of optimal hornbill habitat.:238
While predominantly a bird of ridged and hilly forests, chiefly broadleaved forests at altitudes of 150–2,200 metres (490–7,200 ft), it has also been recorded in dry woodland. The nesting period is from March to June) the trees being preferred are tall and having broad girths. There is evidence to suggest the Rufous-necked Hornbill communities move seasonally between one forested area to another to avail of the differing abundance of fruiting trees due to local conditions.
Describing the egg, Hume (1889) states:
- The egg is a broad oval, compressed somewhat towards one end, so as to be slightly pyriform. The shell is strong and thick, but coarse and entirely glossless, everywhere pitted with minute pores. In colour it is a very dirty white, with a pale dirty yellowish tinge, and everywhere obscurely stippled, when closely examined, with minute purer white specks, owing to the dirt not having got down into the bottoms of the pores.
It measures 2-25 by 1'75 (inches).
The Rufous-necked Hornbill occurs in Sanskrit literature under the epithet vārdhrīnasa, a term which at times also has been used to refer to other Bucerotidae.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Rufous-necked hornbills have been hunted by tribals for their feathers and beak.
Already listed in CITES Appendices I & II, the species is vulnerable but occurs in a number of protected areas in India, China, Thailand and Bhutan. Due to increased information coming in about range and extent, it has been suggested that the Rufous-necked Hornbill be downgraded from IUCN status "Vulnerable" to "Near Threatened".:234
Recent initiatives by the Wildlife Trust of India, Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department and other citizens to conserve hornbills, which also target the Rufous-necked Hornbill, are the Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme, and a programme for replacing the use of real beaks with fibre-made replicas. .
- BirdLife International (2012). "Aceros nipalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- BirdLife Species Factsheet
- Blanford, William Thomas; Oates, Eugene William (1889-98). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds.. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 149–150. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.8366. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- Kinnaird, M.; O'Brien, Timothy G. (2007). The ecology & conservation of Asian hornbills: farmers of the forest. University of Chicago Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-226-43712-5. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- Ghose, Dipankar; Lobo, Peter; Ghose, Nabanita (2006). "A record of the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis from West Bengal, India". Indian Birds 2 (2 (Mar-Apr 2006)): 37–38. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- PTI (2012-02-07). "Artificial beaks save hornbills from extinction in Arunachal". Firstpost. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
- Hume, Allan Octavian (1889-1890). Oates, Eugene William, ed. The nests and eggs of Indian birds, volume III (2 ed.). London: R. H. Porter. pp. 77–79. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.17497. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- Dave, K. N. (1 June 2005). Birds in Sanskrit literature. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 510. ISBN 978-81-208-1842-2. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- WTI staff (7 May 2004). "This beak does not bite". Wildlife Trust of India - News. Wildlife Trust of India. Retrieved 14 April 2012.