TODAY -

Conservation initiatives of Hornbills in Tamenglong & Noney districts
- Part 1 -

Kh Hiltler Singh *

 Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) locally known as Langmeidong mei-ngou
Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) locally known as Langmeidong mei-ngou :: Pix - R.K. Birjit Singh



Forest Department, Government of Manipur shall be organizing Hornbill Festival at Tamenglong from this year. The idea for organizing Hornbill festival was first mooted by Hon'ble Forest & Environment Minister Th. Shyamkumar in the 5th Amur Falcon Festival held at Unity Stadium, Tamenglong on 4th November 2019 so as to inculcate the love of the species and to spread the awareness of conservation of Hornbills to the common people far and wide.

The species of Hornbills: India is considered as home of eleven hornbills species. Hornbills are bird species of mostly high flying and secretive nature. They are monogamous and paired for life. The parental role of male is indispensable. During hatching time the male have to collect fruit and have to feed the female who is in the nest. They regurgitate what they had collected and feed to the female. They are frugivorous and thus help in natural regeneration of many important native tree species in the deep forest.

Because of the presence of its large beaks and casques and its beautiful body colour they are easily distinguished from other birds. In the World there are more than 57 (fifty seven) species/ 75 (seventy five) sub species of Hornbills including some ground dwelling Hornbills. India may have more than eleven species of Hornbills.

1. Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) (Linnaeus, 1758)of India also known as Great pied Hornbill is the largest member from the Hornbill family found in Indian subcontinent. Great pied Hornbill has very impressive size and colour found in the forests of Western Ghats, Himalayan Forests, and North East India. It is the state bird of Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh.
Size. Length; Male- 130 cm, Female - smaller than male.
In Manipur rare resident; it frequents evergreen and moist-deciduous forest of Chandel, Churchandpur, Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Aimol: Piarang; Anal: Pakopa; Chothe: Phuirang; Hmar: Vapuol; Kharam: Pualrang;
Liangmei: Rengdi; Maram: Sarang; Meetei: Lang-mei-rel (Kh. Samungou); Mizo: Vapual;
Monsang: Puwraang; Moyon: Fuwlang; Paite: Phualpi; Purum: Plolang;
Rongmei: Langdai,Raengdai (Chambo); Shongbo:Kokmui;
Tangkhul: Akhok-arang, Hangkhok kharang, Kokphrang; Tarao: Phulraang:Zemei: Heredi]
Conservation Status : Vulnerable

2. Wreathed Hornbill/Assam wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) Synonyms: Aceros undulates; (Shaw, 1811) also known as the bar-pouched wreathed hornbill is a species of hornbill found in forests from far North-eastern India and Bhutan, east and south through Mainland Southeast Asia and the Greater Sundas in Indonesia. It is 144 cm long in male and about 98 cm in female. Males weigh from 1.8 Kg to 3.65 Kg and females weigh from 1.36 Kg to 2.7 Kg.

Both sexes are similar to the respective sexes of the closely related plain-pouched hornbill but the wreathed hornbill can be recognized by the dark bar on the lower throat (hence the alternative common-name bar-pouched)
In Manipur rare resident; it frequents evergreen and moist-deciduous forest of Chandel(?), Churchandpur, Tamenglong.
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Aimol: Wahei, Vahei; Anal: Pakowl; Hmar: Kawlhawk; Lamkang: Pukol;
Meetei: Langmei-khou-dang (Kh. Samungou); Lang-mei-dong mei-ngou / Lang-mei-dong mai-ngou (K. Jugeshwor);
Mizo: Vahai, Kawlhawk; Paite: Zova; Phawkongang;
Rongmei: Hiu, Ranghiu, Liangmei: Chahiu; Shongbo: Kokmui;
Tangkhul: Akhok-arang, Hangkhok kharang, Kokphrang; Tarao: Challo; Zemei: Ngui]
Conservation Status : Vulnerable

3. Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) (Shaw, 1843) is an Indo-Malayan pied hornbill, a large canopy-dwelling bird belonging to the family Bucerotidae. Two other common names for this species are Sunda pied hornbill (convexus) and Malaysian pied hornbill. The species is considered to be among the smallest and most common of Asian hornbills.

It has the largest distribution in the genus and is found in the Indian Sub continent and throughout Southeast Asia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The Oriental pied hornbill's diets include fruits, insects, shellfish, small reptiles and sometime small mammals and birds including their eggs.
Size. Length; Male- 89 cm, Female- smaller than male.
In Manipur rare resident; it frequents evergreen and moist-deciduous forest of Chandel, Churchandpur, Jiribam, Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Aimol: Rangkek; Chiru: Ramkek; Gangte: Langkek: Hmar: Rangkek;
Kharam: Rangkek; Kom: Rangkek; Kuki: Langkeh; Liangmei: Chakhuak;
Maring; Yangkek; Meetei: Langmei-rang (Kh. Samungou); Lang-mei-dong a-raang-bi (K. Jugeshwor);
Mizo: Vahai; Purum: Rangke;Rongmei: Rangkeng, Rengkekna; Shongbo: Kokmui;
Tangkhul: Lengcha; Tarao: Ralkek; Zemei: Herecheing]
Conservation Status : Least Concern

4. Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) (Latham, 1790) also known as lesser pied hornbill is a bird in the hornbill family, a family of tropical near-passerine birds found in the old World.
Manipur is out of its distribution Zone.
Conservation Status: Near threatened

5. Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) is a hornbill endemic to the Western Ghats and associated hills of Southern India. They have a large beak but lack the casque that is prominent in some other hornbill species. They are found mainly in dense forest and around rubber, arecanut or coffee plantation. They move around in small groups feeding on figs, and other forest fruits. Their loud cackling and laughing call makes them familiar to people living in the region.
Size 59 Cm in length.
The species is also distributed in Manipur; resident in Santing and Henglep areas of Churchandpur District as suggested by K. Jugeshwor author of Check lists of Birds of Manipur (Page 75 and Picture Plate 24:4).
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Gangte: Vakhupi; Kuki: Vakhupi;
Meetei: Langmei-utman (Kh. Samungou); Lang-mei-dong ut-maan(K. Jugeshwor)]
Conservation Status : Least Concern

6. Austen's Brown Hornbill (Anorrhinus austeni) (Blyth, 1855) is a species of hornbill found in forests from North-eastern India and South of Vietnam and northern Thailand. It is sometimes included a sub species of Tickelli's brown hornbill.
Conservation Status: Near threatened

7. Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) (Hodgson, 1829) is a species of hornbill in North east India, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, Indian Sub continent and South East Asia. It is locally extinct in Nepal due to hunting and significant loss of habitat. With length of 117 cm, it is among the largest Bucerotine hornbills. The underparts, neck and head are rich rufous in the male, but black in the females.
Size. Length; Male- 122 cm, Female- smaller than male.
In Manipur rare resident; it frequents evergreen and moist-deciduous forest of Chandel, Churchandpur, Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Kom: Veshop; Liangmei: Rengshiak; Mao: Shove; Maram: Siigipui;
Meetei: Lang-mei-kok-ngang(Kh. Samungou), Langmei-mei-dong ngak-ngang (K. Jugeshwor);
Purum: Polwasop; Rongmei: Rengshou]
Conservation Status: Vulnerable

8. Narcondam Hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami) is endemic to the island of Narcondam in Andaman predominantly fruits eaters and live only in small range of islands.
Conservation Status : Endangered

9. Plain-Pouched Hornbill (Aceros subruficollis) (Blyth, 1843) is very rarely sighted in Manipur. RK Birjit, State Coordinator of IBCN claimed the photograph he had taken in 2104 at Manipur valley, India was the first time recorded sighting (All previous records from Myanmar, India and Sumatra were the results of misidentifications).
Size Length c. 90 cm
The species may be distributed in Thoubal, Imphal Districts of Manipur. It was first recorded sighting at Sekmaijin by one Unique Wildlife Protection Committee member Elangbam Budha in 2014.
Species name in different language/ dialects of Manipur
[Meetei: Langmei-tha-ngou(Kh. Samungou), Langmei-mei-dong mei-ngou-nao(K. Jugeshwor);
Rongmei: Raengsau (Hiu)]
Conservation Status : Vulnerable

10. Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) is mostly arboreal and the most common hornbill species sighted in pairs found on the Indian subcontinent commonly found in urban areas. The call of grey hornbill is a squealing call and flight involves flapping interspersed with glides. It has grey feathers all over the body with light grey or dull white belly. The horn is black or dark grey with a casque extending to the point of curvature of the horn. Manipur is not in its distribution Zone.
Conservation Status : Least Concern

11. Tickell's Brown Hornbill (Anorrhinus tickelli) also known as the rusty-cheecked hornbill, is a species of hornbill found in forests of Burma and adjacent eastern Thailand. Austens's brown hornbill is considered as subspecies of Tickell's brown hornbill.
Size Length c. 76 cm.
The species is rare resident of Manipur. May be in the evergreen Forests of Churchandpur (?), Tamenglong (Bunning) and Ukhrul
[Meetei: Lang-mei-dong a-ngang-bi (K. Jugeshwor), Langmei-utman/Kona Langmei (Kh. Samungou); Mizo- Vangai]
Conservation Status: Near threatened

There are reports and secondary data for the presence of the following Hornbills species in Tamenglong and Noney Districts.

(a) Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) - Rongmei: Rangdai/Raengdai; Liangmei: Rengdi; Zemei: Heredi;
(b) Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) - Rongmei: Ranghiu/Hiu; Liangmei: Chahiu; Zemei: Ngui;
(c) Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) - Rongmei: Raengkiaknga/Rengkek; Liangmei: Chakhuak; Zemei: Hereicheing;
(d) Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) - Rongmei: Raengbui/Rengshou; Liangmei: Rengsiak;
(e) Tickell's Brown Hornbill (Anorrhinus tickelli) - Rongmei: Roikurang;
(f) Plain-Pouched Hornbill (Aceros subruficollis) - Rongmei: Raengsau (Hiu);

Folklore and Cultural value of Hornbills:

Hornbill is closely associated with Meetei tradition and beliefs. The bird is associated with a heart touching folk tale. There was an innocent girl whose mother had died and his father called her very lovingly as Khomdon as she was the last child of him. She had a step mother.

The step mother was so cruel to her. She tortured her that she worked day and night. She was always abused with bad words and also not properly given sufficient food.

She gave stale and watery food to her step daughter. Seeing no improvement on the nature of her step mother; the girl decided to commit suicide.

That time she came across a group of Hornbills flying overhead.

She shouted to give their feathers by letting it off their bodies.

Next day she stitchedall over her body with the feathers of Hornbills and when the same group coming flying overhead she cried and asked them to carry her with them, the group of hornbills agreed to the request of the girl and they took off her from the ground; then she became the hornbill.

Thus she became free from her cruel step mother. Based on the above tale, there is still a Children's game song about hornbills which say "Ha Uchek Langmei-dong icha Khomdon yaobra" and other group shall answered as "Nacha Khomdon eikhoigi matung thangbada yaori" (Kh. Samungou).

The above folk tale is also among the Rongmei and many other hill tribes as well. In some tribe's folk tale the son had become hornbill because of the cruel treatment of his step mother. Further Hornbills feathers are an integral part of decorative Head Gears of both male and female in any cultural dance troupe of Rongmei, Zemei and Liangmei tribes. Now a day original feathers of hornbills are not easily available so they are making the feathers by artificial materials.


(To be continued ....)


* Kh Hiltler Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on January 20, 2020.



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