Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here’s one heritage icon instantly associated to our beloved region – the Great Hornbill of the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines. *other species found in Vietnam*

They are called แก้ไข นกกก in Thai, Kalaw in the Philippines and Burung Enggang in Malaysia and Indonesia and Kenyalang in Kalimantan. *what is it called in your language?*

I visited Jurong Bird Park in Singapore a few weeks back and this birdie does it all the time. When I walk in the aviary, they always land to get in the way. So, either I go back where I come from or I just make a run for it. What do they want from me?

Obviously, these great birds are fearless. That’s why they are the symbol of numerous tribes like the Iban people of Borneo, the Dayaks of Kalimantan, the Igorots of Ifugao -- Brave, fearless warriors of the land. Sarawak is known as the "Land of the Hornbills".

They can grow up to 4ft in height with a wingspan of 5ft! That’s why they are sovereigns of the rainforest. The Hornbill’s most distinct feature is that ginormous thingy on top of its’ already ginornous bill – it’s called a “casque” by those who want to have names for anything & everything. A casque – don’t forget.

It is said that Hornbills use their casques (only males has it) for aerial battle. Like what those deers and goats do – butt fight! Although nobody has actually seen Hornbills in actual aerial butt fight.. It’s just a legend perhaps.

The Great Hornbill is in the list of Threatened Species. We can’t afford to lose another one of our endemic icons.

Save the forest, protect the Great Hornbills

heritage icons of Southeast Asia.

Buceros bicornis


*Thanks to Mr Bauer for the photos

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Curbside Puppet said...

i never thought kalaw was an animal. amazing!

Anonymous said...

beautiful bird for sure. but i thought the casque's purpose is for sound resonance when they make thier call.

ken said...

only malayan called tat bird as enggang, we the Sarawakians called it as kenyalang

so such enggang in our vocabulary

sophat said...

If I am not wrong, in Khmer it's keng kang (the latter pronounced kawng).

Allen Yuarata said...

I remember when I was like 10 years old. The Biodiversity Conservation Group in my hometown let us adopt a hornbill for about a month. We named her Mimi and she was very noisy. She eats bread crumbs and papaya. haha.

Anonymous said...

The only place you can see these birds outside of the deep jungle and into human territory is in Brunei... I've seen a flock of them fly over my house and often one or two land on the trees across the street...

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